Police have raided a Highland estate after a golden eagle was poisoned by an illegal pesticide.
Grampian Police and officers from the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate carried out the joint operation on the Glenbuchat Estate following the death of the satellite-tagged bird, which was found on the estate on 29 March.
Tests on the body of the eagle revealed traces of the banned pesticide carbofuran.
The police operation last Wednesday also involved officers from the Tayside force, the National Wildlife Crime Unit, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Constable Dave MacKinnon, Grampian Police’s wildlife crime officer, said: “We are always very concerned when illegal pesticides are used in our countryside for the poisoning of birds of prey but I am particularly disappointed that this incident has resulted in the death of a young golden eagle.
“Our efforts in Scotland and Grampian to eradicate this type of crime over a number of years have been challenging and clearly, with this most recent incident, we still have some way to go.
“Articles have been removed from the estate and are being sent for analysis. Nobody has been charged in connection with this incident or other offences but enquiries are continuing.”
Bob Elliot, head of investigations at RSPB Scotland, said: “This highly toxic chemical, which it is illegal to possess, was found to have poisoned this golden eagle.
“Poisoned baits lying out in the countryside are indiscriminate, and threaten pets, domestic livestock and even humans. That such potentially lethal activity continues in this day and age is an outrage, and threatens the international reputation of Scotland as a haven for wildlife and iconic species.
“Despite all agencies and partners working together to eradicate these crimes, we do not seem to be witnessing any reduction in this type of offence being committed against our world renowned wildlife and natural heritage. Anyone with any information about these activities in the countryside should contact the police.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Grampian Police on 0845 600 5700 or Crimestoppers in confidence and anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The Glenbuchat estate, near Strathdon, lies on the eastern edge of the Cairngorms national park, 64km (40 miles) west of Aberdeen. The estate, around Glenbuchat Castle, boasts pheasant, wild duck, wood pigeon and clay-pigeon shooting for visitors.