Nature experts fear a rare bird of prey could suffer a “lingering death” after it was spotted struggling through the air with a trap attached to its leg.
The golden eagle, which is a protected species, was seen flying in the Crathie area of Deeside with the device attached to it.
Fears about the first-year eagle first arose on Thursday when a tourist spotted it, and police yesterday raised “serious concerns” for the bird’s welfare.
Inquiries are ongoing in conjunction with other agencies including the RSPB.
Sergeant Kim Wood said: “We would encourage anyone who has information which could help to locate this eagle to contact the police on 101 or another relevant authority as soon as possible.”
Ian Thomson, head of investigations at the RSPB, said that the bird may suffer a “lingering death” through blood loss or starvation and that the trap “could not be legal”.
He said: “We have had a number of cases of crimes of this nature in recent years, including on Deeside.
“Traps like this have been used to catch small mammals like stoats and sadly it seems a bird has been trapped.
“We desperately hope that the bird is found and freed.
“It is an utterly deplorable incident that this type of trap was used, and shows that whoever deployed it has no concern for the law or its consequences.”
In May, new figures revealed that, in the last 10 years, there have been 124 incidents in the north-east relating to section one of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
The section targets people who intentionally kill or injure any wild bird, or take any wild bird or their eggs.
And in July, a male hen harrier was put down after it was caught in an illegal trap in South Lanarkshire – with a second trap left next to two unhatched eggs.
The bird’s legs were almost severed by the jaws of the device and it had to be put down after it was found by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group.
The eggs rescued from the nest did not survive.