An RSPB volunteer will today present a petition to the Scottish environment minister calling for greater investigative powers to tackle wildlife crime.
Andrea Goddard, a volunteer for the RSPB at the Tollie Red Kite centre, was inspired to take action following the deaths of 22 raptors earlier this year.
She has gathered more than 6,700 signatures calling for greater powers for the Scottish SPCA.
She will hand over the document to Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change at The Scottish Parliament today.
Ms Goddard said she was “inspired” by the number of people who signed the petition and said it was a sign of how strongly people felt about the deaths of 16 red kites and six buzzards in March this year.
In the wake of the deaths, she organised search parties in the Black Isle area where the birds were found and discovered one of the dead buzzards in the process.
She said: “I think this shows how strongly people feel about wildlife, especially in the light of what happened this year.
“People really took the deaths of the birds personally – these were Ross-shire’s red kites.
“I think it’s important that investigators can fully look into what is going on and that there are stricter sentences if someone does get caught.”
The Scottish Government are currently consulting on whether to offer greater powers to the Scottish SPCA.
Under the proposals, inspectors would be able to investigate crimes relating to wild birds, other protected animals, poaching, snaring and non-native species of animals.
Those investigations could involve accessing land and premises but access to dwellings and locked buildings would be granted by warrant only.
Ms Goddard’s petition will be considered as part of the consultation which closes on September 1.
Speaking at the earlier launch of the consultation, Mr Wheelhouse said: “Preventing wildlife crime is at the top of our agenda but it can be difficult to detect and investigate which can lead to difficulties in mounting prosecutions and convicting those responsible.”
The 22 birds were all found within a two-square-mile area south east of Conon Bridge, with 16 confirmed as having been poisoned.
A reward of £32,000 is available for information leading to a successful conviction.