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Harriers and Peregrines being persecuted in Northern Ireland.

12/03/2007 00:00:00 news/rspbhenharriermaleandyhaymedium
Since 2003 there has been a noticeable upturn in raptor persecution in Northern Ireland. It is believed that this year alone as many as 20 Peregrines have been shot in and around the Mourne mountains, Although in general Northern Ireland has been no worse than the rest of the UK, it is a puzzle as to why there has been such an upturn in this activity recently. One possibility is that these crimes are becoming more noticeable as more people take up bird watching, but there are other theories that tie it in with a plan to introduce many more Red Grouse to the moors.

Studies of Hen Harrier pellets in Northern Ireland show that, unlike the birds in the rest of the UK, Red Grouse only make up about 1% of their diet, but this fact is not well known. Peregrines will also take Red Grouse so it is quite possible that the recent persecution, including one Harrier this year that was poisoned by feeding on a starling that had been nailed to a fence (5 eggs were then removed from its nest.), is tied in in some way with the desire to protect Red Grouse populations.

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