The RSPB has just issued this press release:

Devon and Cornwall Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a protected sparrowhawk was found illegally shot near Plymouth.

The female bird was discovered alive but injured in a paddock in Tamerton Foliot, Plymouth. Seeing it was unable to fly, the finder recovered the bird and contacted the police on 2 February 2020.

The bird was x-rayed by Westmoor Veterinary Hospital in Tavistock and found to contain a shotgun pellet in its wing.

Emily Roisetter, a veterinary nurse, said: “On examination one of our vets could feel an unusual lump in its wing, which lead us to be suspicious that a pellet was present, and this was confirmed with the x-rays.”

The bird is currently being cared for at a wildlife centre.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.

Jenny Shelton from the RSPB’s Investigations Unit, said: “Encountering a sparrowhawk bursting into your garden is an unforgettable experience. One of our smallest birds of prey, these are powerful, agile hunters and it’s a rare treat to see them in action.

“It is appalling to think that someone has shot this bird. All birds of prey are protected by law, and anyone found to have killed one could face jail. Sparrowhawks were heavily persecuted in the past and sadly, despite legal protection, continue to be illegally killed, with shooting the most common method. Between 2007-18 nearly 50 sparrowhawks were victims of illegal persecution, and these are only the ones we know about.”   

In Portsmouth in February, a man who keeps racing pigeons was fined over £800 after pleading guilty to killing a sparrowhawk with a ball-bearing, using a catapault. The act was caught on camera by his neighbour’s CCTV camera.

Investigating Officer Sergeant Northmore, of the Crownhill Neighbourhood Team, said: “We would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time and saw or heard anything which could have been related to this incident, or has any information they think could be useful, to contact us.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Devon and Cornwall Police on 101.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB Investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form: