Peter the peregrine, one of the chicks that fledged from the Cathedral in 2014, was released back into the wild on 23 May after two-and-a-half months recovering from a gunshot wound in the National Bird of Prey Hospital™ at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, Amport.
On Saturday 11 March, Peter was found by a member of the public with an injured wing. He was identified by the large blue leg ring with initials GX, put on when he was a chick at Salisbury Cathedral. A full assessment by the Trust’s Vet, John Chitty of Anton Vets, including x-rays, revealed that the bird had a stable fracture between the radius and ulna. The fracture was consistent with that of a gunshot wound.
As with all birds of prey, it is illegal to injure or kill Peregrine Falcons under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
PC Stephen Rogerson, Wildlife Crime Officer at Hampshire Constabulary said: “The bird may have either been shot at on purpose, or recklessly, due to its predatory nature on rural estates. The falcon was in fairly good condition when it was located. It was not malnourished and there were no signs of other injuries, which would suggest it had been shot in the local area."
The police have now closed the investigation due to insufficient evidence. Peter was released at the Hawk Conservancy Trust’s chalk downland wildflower meadow. Patients of the National Bird of Prey Hospital™ are normally released in the place that they were originally found but a decision was taken not to return him to the location in which it was shot.
Cedric Robert, Head of the National Bird of Prey Hospital™ at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, said: “This is a magnificent bird and I have been delighted to see his progress with us. Peregrine Falcons are amazing creatures and I always feel very privileged to see one in the wild. I really hope he will do well once back in the wild.”
Gary Price Clerk of the Works, who has worked closely with Phile Sheldrake, RSPB Conservation officer on the Cathedral peregrin project said: “We are really relieved that Peter is well enough to be released again. As one of the first chicks to fledge from the Cathedral after a sixty year break, he is a special bird and has left his mark on the Cathedral’s history. I’m really glad we ringed him and were able to keep tabs on him and his welfare.”
Andy Hinton, Curator at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, said: "We condemn the persecution of birds of prey, birds that we strive so hard to conserve. We are pleased to have rehabilitated this bird and are thrilled that it can now be successfully returned to the wild, undoing the damage caused by this criminal act.”
We have had peregrines nesting on the Tower this year and two chicks have fledged (including and orphan that we introduced to the nest early this year). The chicks and the two adults have been ringed so we will wait with interest to see what happens to them. The female has also been satellite tagged so we can follow her movements of the coming months.
For more information contact Marie Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org or 01722 555148