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SEPTEMBER  30, 2003

INFORMATION NEEDED ON PEREGRINE SHOOTING

READING -- Pennsylvania Game Commission officials today announced they are seeking information about the shooting of a peregrine falcon in the Mt. Joy, Lancaster County area. Peregrines are a state endangered species and, like all birds of prey, protected by both state and federal law.

The peregrine was wearing a leg band, which identified it as one of the birds that was hatched on the Rachel Carson State Office Building in downtown Harrisburg in 2002.

The peregrine was found injured along the railroad tracks by a rail line inspector. The inspector turned the bird over to Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Jason DeCoskey, who transported the peregrine to Beth Carricato, a wildlife rehabilitator. When the bird was X-rayed, it was determined that its injuries were due to being struck with lead shot. The bird had wounds to the wings, talons and upper body.

"Local vets have offered to donate their time to help this bird recover," WCO DeCoskey stated. "With surgery and a long rehabilitation period, we hope that the bird will make a full recovery and be able to be released next year."

DeCoskey turned the information regarding the shooting over to WCO Jonathan Zuck, who supervises the area where the incident occurred.

"We don't know if this was done intentionally or if the peregrine was shot by mistake," Zuck said. "Due to the appearance and nature of the wounds, we believe the bird was shot in flight on either Sept. 17 or 18.

"Our investigation is continuing, but we need the help from the public to crack this case."

Any information regarding this violation should be directed to the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Southeast Regional Office at 1-877-877-9470 (toll free), and all information will be kept strictly confidential.

The peregrine falcon is widely known as the world's fastest flying bird. This species declined during the early decades of this century in the United States and across the world primarily because of DDT contamination.

A nationwide reintroduction program was initiated by the Peregrine Fund, based at Cornell University, during the 1970s and 1980s. Hundreds of captive-reared young were released in urban areas and from coastal towers in a process known as "hacking." Birds released by this method tend to return to the area to rear their young.

One of the nest sites that is closely watch by both biologists and the public occurs near the top of the Rachel Carson building in Harrisburg. The public is able to follow the nestlings from the time they hatch until they leave the nest through the use of the state Department of Environmental Protection's "Falcon Cam" on the Internet www.dep.state.pa.us.

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