The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are investigating the circumstances by which the bodies of two protected Peregrine Falcons were found at Oaklands Quarry in Ballykelly.
The birds were found near the partial remains of a pigeon and it is believed they may have been poisoned.
'Both birds were found close to vestigial remains of a pigeon,' said Tony Murray, the local Conservation Ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
'We suspect that the pigeon was treated with substances that poisoned the Peregrines and the toxicology examinations will confirm this and identify the products used.'
The two birds were taken for analysis to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in its Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Kilkenny. The birds will undergo a necropsy where physical examinations will be undertaken and organs examined and their condition assessed. The livers will also be removed for toxicology examinations. These post mortem examinations will establish the exact cause of death.
'The Peregrine population declined in the 1950s and 60s due to the use of organic pesticides like DDT,' Mr Murray added.
'Following a ban on the use of these, the population recovered significantly to what it is today. Peregrine Falcons are a protected species and the deliberate killing of them is a criminal offence.'
The NPWS has now opened a file on the case and investigations are ongoing. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the NPWS on 076 1002662 or contact their local Garda Station.
The NPWS officials also wished to express their gratitude to the staff of Oaklands Quarry for their assistance in this and a previous similar incident at the same location.