From the Belfast Telegraph (14/11/19):
BIRD OF PREY FOUND SHOT THREE TIMES ON MEND, SAY OMAGH VETS
A bird of prey is recovering after being shot three times in Co Tyrone.
X-rays performed by Omagh practice Corry & O’Hare Vets revealed that the buzzard had received a fractured bone following the attack in Newtownstewart.
Three round pellets were also found lodged in various parts of the female bird’s body.
It is unclear whether or not the buzzard – a species afforded the highest level of wildlife protection – was shot deliberately.
As it is illegal to hunt protected birds, the incident has been reported to the PSNI.
The penalty for committing a wildlife crime in Northern Ireland – including shooting, poisoning, trapping and nest destruction of a bird of prey – is a fine of up to £5,000 and a six-month custodial sentence.
Louise O’Hare from Corry & O’Hare Vets said the injured bird was brought to them last week after being found unable to fly by a member of the public.
It’s good that this shooting has been reported in the media but the quality of reporting is pretty poor. If those ‘three round pellets’ found in the buzzard’s body were shotgun pellets it’s likely the bird was hit once and sprayed with shot, not ‘shot three times’. And does it matter whether the buzzard was targeted deliberately or not? If it wasn’t, then shooting it was reckless and is still an offence.
Last week the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Northern Ireland published a ten-year review of raptor persecution (2009-2018) which highlighted buzzards as the most frequently reported victims (followed by red kite then peregrine). Technology such as satellite tags and nest cameras are now being deployed in an attempt to crack down on the criminals. You can follow this project on the Hawk Eyes website (here) and read our commentary on it here.