Police have issued a warning to the public not to damage legally set traps.
Various estates have reported instances of traps being damaged for disturbed , including larsen traps, multi-catch crow traps, spring traps and snares.
Constable Daniel Sutherland, the north’s wildlife crime liaison officer, recently visited Glendoe and Culachy estates near Fort Augustus to discuss the issue.
Legally set traps allow farmers and gamekeepers to protect their game birds and livestock, such as lambs, during the spring and deliberate damage can prove costly.
Land owners have reported damage by members of the public including ‘triggering’ a set trap, vandalising a cage trap or releasing decoy birds.
Constable Sutherland said: “Releasing decoy birds, vandalising or triggering traps is an offence and potentially very damaging to a farmer or keeper’s livelihood.
“Incidents like these often go unreported so I’d encourage farmers and keepers to report any suspected tampering to police as soon as possible.
“I’d also advise anyone with concerns about a set trap not to touch it but to contact police on 101 to allow officers and partners to make inquiries.”
Ian Wilson, NFU North Highland representative and Highland Partners Against Wildlife Crime chairman added: “The use of traps to aid control of vermin is an essential and legal practice, all users are reminded to use responsibly and check frequently as the law states.
“Other people are to be reminded that to interfere with these legally set traps is an offence and they will be open to prosecution if found to be damaging or interfering with traps.”