Police are investigating after a rare peregrine falcon was shot in Keynsham.
The falcon, which is just a few months old, was found at the side of the road by a passer-by in Queen Charlton earlier this month.
He alerted the Independent Bird Register and it is now recovering in a specially constructed mews at the smallholding of Peter Burden who has been rehabilitating birds of prey for 40 years.
Initially Mr Burden thought the bird had been hit by a car but an X-ray revealed lead pellets in its wing.
Mr Burden, who also breeds chickens, ducks, sheep and rheas, at his home in Portishead said: “I have cared for many birds over the years but this is the first time I have known a peregrine falcon to be shot.
“The falcon suffered soft tissue damage which means it cannot fly. It is making good progress and I am taking it back to the vet next week.”
Mr Burden, 60, who is also chairman of Portishead Town Council, also reported the incident to Bristol Ornithological Club,
Club chairman Ed Drewitt had ringed the bird when it was a chick near Avonmouth on the Severn Estuary early in July and said: “This bird is just a few months old and it’s hard to believe it’s been shot.
“I’ve been studying peregrines in Bristol for 15 years and this is the first instance of one being shot in the city. It is unacceptable behaviour, and a relief the bird is still alive.
“In areas such as northern England we do encounter problems of this kind, with game hunters targeting the birds.
“Whoever shot the bird was a bad shot and fortunately the pellet went into its wing, rather than into the main body.”
He hopes the bird will make a full recovery and will be able to be released into the wild.
Peregrine falcons are a protected species and the incident has been reported to the police and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
A police spokesman said: “We are investigating the incident which is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1982,
“Anyone with information should contact Keynsham Police Station on 101.”
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