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Appeal after golden eagle poisoned

A golden eagle found dead in a rural area was poisoned, tests have revealed.

The bird, named Fearnan, was discovered earlier this month in the hills above Glen Lethnot in Angus.

Conservation charity RSPB Scotland has condemned those responsible for the killing, which is now the subject of a Police Scotland investigation.

The charity said Roy Dennis, of the Highland Foundation for Wildlife, had been monitoring the eagle's movements but became suspicious when its satellite tracking signal remained static for several days.

He alerted the police and RSPB Scotland investigations staff, who visited the area. The dead bird was recovered during a search of the moor, which is said to be managed for grouse shooting.

Subsequent tests carried out in a laboratory confirmed that the bird had been poisoned.

The charity said the eagle was ringed as a chick in a nest near Loch Tay in Perthshire in June 2011 and had spent much of its life in Badenoch. It moved to the Angus glens in early November but was poisoned just weeks later.

Police are asking anyone who was in Glen Lethnot and the surrounding areas between November 10 and 25 to contact them.

Constable Blair Wilkie, wildlife liaison officer for Angus, said: ''Given the rural location of this crime, we appeal to anyone who was out walking, working, or indeed out on the hills for whatever purpose between those dates, to get in touch. You may not think that any information you have is of value to us, but please let us be the judges of that.

''It's also important to stress to the public that in cases where poisoned baits are used to target birds of prey, the poisons present a wider threat. They are, without question, a significant health risk to both humans and animals.

''If you find what you suspect to be poisoned bait, do not touch it.

''Cover it if possible and contact the police with details of its location. A team of officers is continuing to conduct searches in the Glen Lethnot area with a view to recovering the bait used to poison this bird."

RSPB Scotland director Stuart Housden said: "This appalling incident involving a species recently voted as the nation's favourite bird marks a dreadful end to the Year of Natural Scotland."

The charity has submitted a petition to the Scottish Government, asking for the golden eagle to be officially designated as the national bird of Scotland.

"Incidents such as this show very clearly why this iconic bird needs not just our recognition, but also greater protection," he said.

"We sincerely hope that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice and would encourage those with information to come forward."

In the past five-and-a-half years, another four eagles, a red kite and seven buzzards have been shot, poisoned or trapped on sporting estates in the Angus glens, RSPB Scotland said.

In January, the nest tree of a pair of white-tailed eagles was felled. No-one has been prosecuted for any of these offences, the charity added.

Anyone with information can contact police on 101.

Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "I am disgusted and angry at the news of the discovery of a poisoned golden eagle in the Angus glens which appears to be a deliberate, illegal and cruel action against a protected species.

"The killing of our wildlife is a stain on Scotland's reputation; a reputation on which many of our industries such as tourism, recreation and food and drink rely heavily.

"It is a great regret that such actions undermine the reputation of sporting estates at a time when there has been genuine progress on the part of the majority of estates and gamekeepers. The actions of a small and ignorant minority are extremely damaging and the Scottish public will rightly be outraged by this news and I share that sense of outrage."

Contextual targeting label: 
Hobbies and general interest

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