“Peregrines have nested at the disused quarry at Clee Hill since 1995. For years visitors have come to watch the falcons during the breeding season.

The first reports of deliberate disturbance were in 2003, when two men were caught attempting to release domestic pigeons, probably laced with poison, near breeding peregrines.

Since then, the problem has exploded. Young peregrines have been found poisoned, breeding birds found dead with toxic substances on their bodies, and oil has been poured deliberately onto a nest.

One female was found dead on her nest while incubating three eggs. A few years ago, a dead bird was found tied up and hanging from the railings at the viewpoint near the nest site.

I know a Facebook page – the Blakenhall Pigeon Flyers group – which regularly promotes the killing of birds-of-prey in the interests of protecting the ‘sport’ of pigeon flying. It shows disturbing images of dead birds and celebrates their ‘removal’. It seems social media is being used to organise the illegal persecution of birds-of-prey.

Until 2016/17 there was almost a complete lack of action by the authorities. My views are that public bodies are failing to protect species and to seek justice for our wildlife.”

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