Police across the north and north-east of Scotland will soon have a more scenic beat to pound.
A new initiative to tackle wildlife crime in the Cairngorms has been launched with special constables specifically assigned to the national park.
The decision to move forward with the pilot scheme was sparked by the continuing disappearances of birds of prey, and comes just days after another satellite-tagged golden eagle disappeared in the northern Monadhliath Mountains.
The pilot project is being funded by the Scottish Government and the park authority and will mean five officers, based across the three divisions which cover the sprawling hills and woodlands.
It is hoped the partnership, which was officially launched yesterday, will help make further strides in tackling offences such as thefts and fly-tipping.
Roseanna Cunningham, environment secretary, said: “Whilst recorded wildlife crime in the CNPA (Cairngorms National Park Authority) area has been declining and is now at a low level, aided by collaboration between police, the park authority and a range of stakeholders, there is a need to maintain progress on this matter and we and our members look forward to working with the special constables to help achieve that in the months and years ahead.
“I announced this programme following a report that found many of our golden eagles are disappearing in suspicious circumstances.
“Golden eagles are in the news again with reports of another missing bird, which further underlines the importance of this work.
“It is my hope that the success of this pilot scheme will allow us extend it more widely across Scotland. We are absolutely determined to crack down on those who commit crime against our wildlife.”
Special constables are volunteer officers who give up their free time to assist the force by carrying out normal police duties.
Detective Chief Superintendent David McLaren added: “It is our hope that by having this additional policing resource within the Cairngorms National Park we will be able to deter wildlife criminals.
“By building good relationships with those using the park, for work or leisure, we will also seek to better educate the public in identifying and reporting suspicious activity.”