On Friday, Suffolk Police’s wildlife crime team posted a photo on Twitter of a young tethered peregrine wearing falconry jesses. The photo was accompanied by a statement about how a multi-agency team had executed a search warrant at an unknown address and removed the peregrine with the intention of releasing it back to the wild.
No information was provided about the circumstances of how the falconer came to be in possession of a wild peregrine or whether the falconer would face charges for unlawful possession.
After a bit of digging it turns out that the young peregrine had hatched at a monitored site and had crash-landed in to a lake post-fledging. It had been rescued and sent to a wildlife hospital for assessment and rehabilitation.
Somehow (it’s not clear to me how) two falconers became involved and one of them took the peregrine, perhaps also with the intention of rehabilitation before release, but perhaps not. The falconer had removed the plastic colour ring from the peregrine’s leg (why would you do that if you intended to release the peregrine?) although the metal BTO leg ring was still in place on the other leg (as you can see from the photo).
Somebody obviously had concerns about the falconer’s intentions because a tip-off led to the multi-agency search led by Suffolk Police and assisted by Norfolk Constabulary, RSPB Investigations and the National Wildlife Crime Unit. Search warrants aren’t usually granted without the police being able to show reasonable grounds to suspect a crime has been committed. The peregrine was seized, presumably to ensure it was returned to the wild.
Apparently the police dealt with the falconer by way of a community resolution order, probably because it would have been too difficult (virtually impossible) to prove criminal intent in this case.
Well done to the police and agencies involved in retrieving this peregrine and getting it back where it belongs.
UPDATE 14th December 2022: Stolen peregrine rehabbed and released back to the wild in Suffolk (here)