The National Parks and Wildlife Service, of the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Gardaí in Co Louth is seeking the public’s help in relation to the unlawful killing of two Peregrine Falcons. The falcons had recently established a nest in a remote location in the Cooley Mountains. Three eggs and two dead adult falcons were recovered by NPWS staff from the nest site. The adults were unlawfully killed while trying to incubate their young. Forensic and other evidence is being gathered in the expectation that a successful prosecution will take place.
The recent killings have once again regrettably confirmed that birds of prey are still subject to acts of illegal persecution.
The Peregrine is the fastest bird in the world, capable of reaching speeds of over 240km/hour in flight and recorded at 389 km/hour while in stoup, diving for prey (Guinness Book of Records 2005) Due to the manner in which they defend their nest sites from intruders they can leave themselves exposed to persecution.
Peregrine falcon numbers were decimated during the 1950s and 1960s due to the widespread use of DDT and other agricultural pesticides. Since then, the Peregrine has experienced a population recovery; however they remain very vulnerable to human persecution, which is the prime threat to the stability of the population. This has been clearly highlighted through these incidents in Co. Louth, as well as other shootings and poisonings which have claimed Peregrines in recent years.
During the five year period 2011 to 2015 records on Bird of Prey persecution in Ireland indicate that there were 109 persecution incidents recorded. That figure included eight peregrine falcons that were shot and sixteen others poisoned source: https://www.npws.ie/research-projects/animal-species/birds/raptor-protocol, many other incidences may have gone unreported.
In 2016, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) secured successful convictions in a high-profile wildlife crime case. Dungarvan District court convicted four men of crimes relating to targeting and killing of protected birds of prey during the 2014 breeding season.
Locals in the Carlingford area have expressed deep disgust at this recent ruthless destruction of breeding falcons in this wild and beautiful location.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Gardaí are continuing to investigate the incident and appeal for information from members of the public.
Anyone with information can contact An Garda Síochána in Dundalk at 042-938 8400 or the local Conservation Ranger at 076 1002637. All information is held in confidence.