CONSERVATION rangers are hunting for the shooter of a young buzzard – a species once almost extinct in Ireland.
The bird of prey was found still alive but seriously injured by a member of the public who brought it to a vet for treatment.
It had been shot in its wing and was unable to fly. An x-ray revealed four gunshot pellets in its wing and body. The damage was too severe to allow for the animal to be rehabilitated and it had to be put down.
The buzzard, which is believed to have only fledged earlier this year, was found in the Rossnaree area of Co Meath at the start of this month. However, it may have been injured some days earlier.
The species was once almost driven to extinction in southern Ireland. A few breeding pairs survived in the Glens of Antrim. However, their numbers have recovered in recent years in the south.
Conservation ranger Annette Lynch said that while it was open season for hunting at this time of year, buzzards were protected and it was unlikely the bird could be mistaken for another species.
While buzzards have been found poisoned – sometimes accidentally as they scavenge poisoned animals – they are seldom found shot.
Arts and Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan appealed for anyone with information to contact rangers or gardai.
"The buzzard is a magnificent bird of prey. It is protected by law and the shooting of this buzzard is unacceptable," he said.
Ms Lynch can be contacted on 076 1002636.