Belfast Telegraph

Success for PSNI drones as peregrine chicks fledge the nest

By Michael Sheils McNamee

The chicks of peregrine falcons protected since birth by drones have fledged the nest, the PSNI have revealed on social media.

Back in May police announced that they would be using the small aircrafts mounted with specialist cameras to look at 'hot-spots' where crime against the birds was most common.

It is believed that this is the first time technology has been used in this way to protect wildlife by a police force in the UK.

Speaking when the programme was launched, the PSNI's Wildlife Liaison Officer Emma Meredith said: "The Police Service of Northern Ireland take all types of crimes seriously and this includes wildlife crime such as shooting, poisoning or trapping of birds of prey.  On occasions, baits (examples such as a rabbit carcass or sausages) have been laid laced with poison in the public domain."

She added that on occasion this had included the poison Carbofuran, which can be fatal to humans and which was banned across the EU in 2001.

On Friday afternoon the PSNI tweeted pictures of the young birds in flight, confirming the programme had been a success.

In recent times the stock of peregrine falcons in Northern Ireland has increased from historic lows in the 1950s and 1960s, but they are still often targeted by individuals that consider them to be a nuisance.

Between 2009 and 2014 there were 44 confirmed incidents of native birds of prey being killed illegally and one confirmed incident of illegal nest destruction according to a report by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime published last year.

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