Police are investigating after a Golden Eagles’ nest on Mull was tampered with, preventing the pair from breeding.
The nest, which has been used by a pair of Golden Eagles for seven years, is near the island capital, Tobermory.
Plastic items were placed in the nest preventing the birds from breeding.
Inspector Julie McLeish, of Oban police station, said: “Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has reported this to us. Part of the SNH officer’s role is to tag Golden Eagles. When he visited the nest on Saturday he found it appeared to have been disturbed. Sticks and plastic items had been placed in the nest.
“There were no signs of life and it appeared that the items had been placed in the nest prior to the eagles laying there this season.”
Ian Thompson, head of investigations at RSPB Scotland, said: “From what we can surmise, this was a deliberate attempt to prevent the birds breeding at this site, which is very disappointing.
“There was too much debris on the nest for them to breed.
“This was a standard check by a licensed SNH officer to see how the birds had got on, it was on this check that this was discovered.
“It is a real shame because this is was a very successful pair for many years.
“In terms of birds of prey on Mull generally, the island is held up as a fantastic place for people to visit because of its bird of prey community.
“Unlike many areas in the east of Scotland, where rapture persecution is unfortunately rather common and widespread, it has not been an issue on the isle of Mull. It would be a real shame if these crimes started happening in a place that relies very much on the tourist industry for its economy, particularly from people coming to see golden eagles and sea eagles.”
He added: “A recent study showed that sea eagles bring £5million a year to the Mull economy. It is such an important part of the local economy, people come from the UK and farther afield to visit Mull and see its birds of prey. Obviously crimes such as this put that excellent reputation at risk.
“I would reiterate that if anyone has any information about this particular incident, they should please contact police.”
A spokesman for SNH added: “Golden eagles and their nest sites are fully protected in Scotland at all times of the year. We would encourage anyone with information regarding this incident to contact Police Scotland Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer on 101.”