Wildlife crime on the estate involved the death of a golden eagle. Photo: David Whitaker/NatureScot

Wildlife crime on the estate involved the death of a golden eagle. Photo: David Whitaker/NatureScot

Scotland’s advisory body on the outdoors has issued restrictions on another Highlands estate.

NatureScot announced it had restricted the use of general licences on part of the Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms national park.

The organisation said the decision was made on the basis of evidence provided by Police Scotland of wildlife crime against birds.

General licences allow landowners or land managers to carry out control of common species of wild birds, such as crows and magpies, to protect crops or livestock, without the need to apply for an individual licence. The suspension of general licence provisions will last three years.

NatureScot said evidence from the police included the case of a poisoned golden eagle found on the estate in March 2021, along with a rabbit and a hare carcass, both baited with poison.

The restriction will apply to the Gairnshiel and Micras Moor on the estate, where the evidence of poisoning was found.

Donald Fraser, NatureScot’s head of wildlife management, said: “These poisoning incidents are appalling and an act of animal cruelty.

“The indiscriminate use of poisons is not only lethal to our iconic Scottish wildlife, but can also pose a serious health risk to people and domestic animals that come into contact with it.

“We are committed to using all the tools we have available to tackle wildlife crime. In this case, there is clear evidence of criminal behaviour. Because of this, and the risk of more wildlife crimes taking place, we have suspended the use of general licences on this property for three years.

“They may still apply for individual licences, but these will be closely monitored.

“This measure will help to protect wild birds in the area, while still allowing necessary land management activities to take place, although under tighter supervision. We believe this is a proportionate response to protect wild birds in the area and prevent further wildlife crime.

“We work closely with Police Scotland and will continue to consider information they provide on cases which may warrant restricting general licences. The detection of wildlife crime can be difficult, but this is the third time in recent months when we have restricted use of general licences on the basis of evidence of crime taking place. New and emerging technologies, along with a commitment from a range of partners to take a collective approach to these issues, will help us stop wildlife crime.”

NatureScot imposed similar restrictions on the Lochan Estate in Perthshire in January after a satellite-tagged hen harrier was found dead on the estate near Dunkeld in an illegally set spring trap.

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