A golden eagle found dead in the Cairngorms was deliberately poisoned, police have confirmed.
The bird of prey was found dead on a hillside on the Invercauld Estate, near Crathie on March 19 after being illegally targeted with a toxic substance
Police today revealed a number of properties on the estate were searched yesterday as their continue their inquiries. No arrests have been made.
Detective Constable Daniel Crilley, from the wildlife crime unit, said that raptor persecution is a priority for the force, which is currently running a year-long campaign Operation Wingspan.
The golden eagle was found dead on the Invercauld estate near Braemar
Raptor persecution top priority for Police Scotland
He said: “Poisoning a bird or animal is not only cruel and callous but it can also harm other wildlife. Illegal persecution of raptors will not be tolerated.
“We are determined to protect these magnificent birds and here in the north-east, we work closely with a number of partners, such as the RSPB and NatureScot, to tackle wildlife crime, which can be particularly challenging to investigate.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Cunningham, wildlife crime lead for the force, added: “Scotland’s rich, rare and diverse wildlife and landscapes are among its biggest attractions. We cannot allow the indiscriminate use of poisons and pesticides to threaten our natural heritage.
“Police Scotland, working with our key partners, is committed to protecting our wildlife habitats and to bringing those who seek to destroy or harm it, to justice.”
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reported last October that dozens of birds of prey were shot, trapped and poisoned in the UK in 2019.
The highest concentrations of crimes were in the north of England and Scotland, with North Yorkshire the worst spot, and half the confirmed incidents occurred within protected landscapes.
Criminal behaviour not only harming wildlife
The Invercauld Estate is home to a wide variety of rare bird species, as well as being one of the last capercaillie breeding sites in Deeside.
However, Ian Thomson, head of investigations at RSPB Scotland, said the area’s reputation was repeatedly being put at threat by criminals targeting birds of prey.
“Raptor persecution crimes on grouse moors in this area happen regularly,” he said. “In 2019, a young eagle was photographed caught in a trap less than two miles from here, and in 2016, a line of illegal traps targeting birds of prey was found set across the hill less than three miles away. The perpetrators of these crimes don’t just threaten wildlife, but put at risk the reputation of the area and the jobs dependent on the associated tourist industry.”
Anyone with any information should call 101.