Leading article

Protecting falcons is a priority

It is disturbing that, at a stage when there are only estimated to be 80 pairs of breeding peregrine falcons across Northern Ireland, they have regularly become the victims of illegal poisoning, shooting or trapping.

Several deaths have been discovered among the officially protected birds of prey annually, although, as they often raise their young on isolated cliff faces or remote quarries, assessing the full extent of the problem is far from easy.

The decision announced yesterday by the PSNI, working with environment agency officials, to combat the problem through the use of drones is fully justified.

Some nests are thought to have been accidentally disturbed by curious observers but it is also clear that malicious individuals have been deliberately targeting the peregrines.

It is not acceptable for any form of endangered species to be treated in this way, and those who engage in wildlife crime deserve to be firmly held to account.

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Leading article