Devon

Peregrine falcon raised in Exeter found shot dead

X-ray of falcon
Image caption The pellets in the falcon's leg are visible in the x-ray

A peregrine falcon raised on a church steeple in Exeter has been found dead with pellets from a gun in its leg.

The falcon was born on the steeple of St Michael's Church in Exeter as part of a breeding project viewed around the world via a webcam.

The bird was found dead at the bottom of a chimney in Halifax and identified through a leg ring.

RSPB spokesman Tony Whitehead called the shooting "very disturbing" and said it was "a very sad case".

Image copyright St Michael's Church
Image caption Peregrine falcons have bred at St Michael's church in Exeter since 1997

Mr Whitehead said: "While cities can provide safe nest sites, this incident demonstrates how vulnerable the birds are once fledged, when they often fly long distances to establish their own territories."

The RSPB said it was "unlikely" anyone would be prosecuted.

It is not yet known whether the shot was directly responsible for the bird's death.

Peregrine falcons have nested on the steeple of the church since 1997 with more than 50 birds reared at the site.

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