Police in Inverness are appealing for information after a bird of prey was found shot in the Loch Farr area of Inverness-shire.
A female goshawk was found dead in a tree nearby Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) woodland on Saturday.
The body of the bird of prey was recovered with assistance from the FLS and the RSPB. Following a post mortem it was established the bird had been shot.
Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s head of investigations said: “It’s both depressing and worrying that in 21st century Scotland, rare and protected birds of prey are still being routinely killed.
“Goshawks are regularly targeted, even in publicly-owned forests, despite their role as predators of crows and pigeons, species that some people regard as pests.”
The large hawks live in many areas across the north-east and are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Goshawks are normally found in large areas of woodland and forests, and can also be seen hunting over more open countryside.
Wildlife crime officer, constable Daniel Sutherland described the shooting of the bird a “cruel and callous act” and reassured that the killing of protected species in Scotland will not be tolerated.
He commented: “I am grateful to the member of public who came across the bird and reported it to us. Wildlife crime can be challenging to investigate and we work closely with a number of partners to investigate and bring those who seek to destroy or harm wildlife to justice.”
The officer is urging anyone with information about the incident to contact the police on 101.
Graeme Prest, regional manager, FLS said: “We work hard to safeguard all protected species on our land so it is extremely disappointing to find an incident such as this has taken place on land managed by FLS.
“We carry out regular monitoring of sites in this area and will continues to work with local police officers, the Highland Partnership against Wildlife Crime and RSPB to ensure that all incidents of wildlife crime are reported and investigated.”