Fears have been voiced about the future of the peregrine falcons in Northern Ireland by a group monitoring the birds of prey.
The warning from the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group (NIRSG) comes after four birds were killed in suspicious circumstances between January and November. The group described 2010 as one of the worst years for “peregrine persecution”.
The concern comes as figures also showed a 20% drop in the number of breeding pairs of peregrines in the province in less than 20 years.
The NIRSG has appealed to those responsible for the attacks to stop. A peregrine was found dead in a Co Londonderry quarry in July. Three other falcons have been found dead in the province.
A third bird was found in Portaferry, Co Down, with shotgun pellets in its wings.
Emma Meredith of the PSNI said “such acts cannot and will not be tolerated”.
“We urge anyone that has any information about peregrine persecution or wildlife crime to report it to the police or through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to assist us in bringing these criminals to justice.”