A protected bird of prey has died after being found with a suspected gunshot wound in Northumberland at the weekend.
The adult female buzzard was discovered by a member of the public in the Blanchland area near Hexham on Saturday.
It was taken to a nearby wildlife sanctuary at Ladyhill Farm in Simonburn where it later died from lead poisoning and infection.
Mark French, who runs the commercial falconry business at the farm, reported the incident to police who also confirmed that a similar incident involving a Tawny Owl occurred in the last few weeks.
Tynedale Wildlife Crime Officer, Colin Heath, said: “Buzzards are protected birds and inquiries are being carried out to identify the person responsible.
“We have also received information that a Tawny Owl has been shot in the area within the last couple of weeks and we are appealing for anyone with information about either of these incidents to contact police.”
The buzzard was brought to Mr French on Saturday where he thoroughly examined the bird and on first inspection it appeared to be in general good health.
He said: “The buzzard was brought in and I examined it and it didn’t have any broken wings of limbs and it wasn’t starved or anything.
“On further examination we discovered it had lead shot in its body, once we pulled the feathers back we found part of its abdomen was green and infected.
“We gave it some antibiotics and treated it for lead poisoning but it died a couple of hours after it came in.
“In that situation when someone finds one on the ground and can pick it up as easy as this lady did, it’s always a bit of a sign. One of the symptoms of lead poisoning is paralysis of the limbs so it didn’t know how to use its wings or limbs.
“It’s very sad and unfortunate as it was in a good health otherwise.”
Mr French, who runs falconrydays.com, has lived at the Northumberland farm for seven years and while his main business is offering birds of prey experiences on the 50 acres of land, the secondary purpose is to act as a rescue centre for injured wild birds and helping them back into the wild.
“We do that side of things because we want to,” added Mr French.
He now hopes anyone who may have any information as to how this buzzard came to be shot will contact police to reduce the risk of other local birds of prey being injured in similar circumstances.
To contact Northumbria Police call 101.