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Federally protected peregrine falcon found shot to death outside Salem home

Union Leader Correspondent

May 09. 2018 11:13AM
Stephanie Burke stands in the area at the front of her Salem home where a peregrine falcon was shot and killed last weekend. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

Salem police are trying to find the person who fatally shot this peregrine falcon. (Salem Police Department)

SALEM — Authorities are trying to hunt down the person responsible for shooting a federally protected peregrine falcon found dead outside a local residence.

Homeowner Stephanie Burke said her family had just returned home from her daughter’s graduation on the afternoon of May 5 when her husband, John, heard a thump at the front of the house on Twinbrook Avenue and went to check it out. That’s where he found the adult falcon on the ground with a gunshot wound.

“It’s sad. It was such a beautiful bird,” she said.

Fish and Game Conservation Officer Chris McKee said the bird may have been hit with a .22-caliber round that went through its chest cavity and exited its body. No bullet has been found.

Burke said no one heard a gunshot when the falcon was hit and she couldn’t recall any issues with shooting in the neighborhood.

Police said they believe the falcon may have been perched in a tree when it was shot in the front yard of the Burkes’ residence.

The falcon was wearing tags and was being tracked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The bird was born in 2012 at the Brady Sullivan Tower in Manchester. Since 2003, that nest site overlooking downtown Manchester has been monitored by a video camera feed. A link to the feed can be found at

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American peregrine falcon was added to the list of endangered species in 1970 after DDT use as a pesticide in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s caused their population to decline across North America.

The population has since rebounded, prompting the peregrine falcon to be removed from the list in 1999. However, the bird is still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which regulates the take of peregrine falcons and other migratory birds in the U.S.

McKee visited the neighborhood Wednesday to investigate further as authorities try to find the person responsible for the shooting.

“We don’t know if it could have been somebody protecting livestock,” he said.

Burke said she wasn’t aware of anyone in the neighborhood with chickens.

McKee said he hasn’t investigated any other similar incidents involving falcons being shot recently.

“Obviously, we hate to see any of them intentionally shot and killed,” he said.

Authorities haven’t decided whether criminal charges will be filed in the case.

“Right now my main goal is to find out who actually did it,” McKee said.

Anyone with information can call Bliss at 890-2390, Fish and Game at 271-3127, or contact Salem police on their Facebook page,

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