A police investigation has been launched after a peregrine falcon was shot and killed in the Peak District.
Peregrine falcons are a protected species and it is illegal to kill them.
The injured bird was found by walkers in the Goyt Valley, west of Buxton, but it died of shotgun injuries.
Sgt Darren Belfield said: ““Peregrines, like all birds of prey, are protected by law. The persecution of birds of prey is a problem in some upland areas of the county, with offences taking place away from public view in isolated rural areas, often in the early hours when there are few people around to witness illegal acts.
“I would personally appeal to all users of the countryside to help us bring persecution to an end. If you know or suspect someone of committing or being involved in committing acts of wildlife crime of any kind I would urge you to come forward and report it to the police.
“Furthermore, if you are involved in outdoor activities or sports, or are engaged in employment in the rural areas of our county, I would ask you to remain vigilant to crimes of this type. The police need witnesses and evidence in order to secure a prosecution. The public can help with this so if you suspect it, please report it.”
Speaking on behalf of the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative, Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park said: “Killing birds of prey is illegal. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behaviour. We were appalled to hear about this incident and wholeheartedly condemn the illegal persecution of birds of prey.
“This case shows what we are up against in trying to reverse their fortunes – it is incredibly difficult to catch someone in the act or to collect evidence and make a case for prosecution. We will always support the police in their investigations and continue to work with our partners to conserve birds of prey. Members of the public can help by being vigilant and reporting suspicious behaviour. ”
The bird was found south of Errwood Reservoir on Monday, September 5 but it is thought the shooting could have taken place up to six days earlier.
If anyone has any information that could help with the investigation of this wildlife crime, they should contact Derbyshire Police on 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.