A protected bird of prey has been put to sleep after it was shot in the Highlands. 

Police were called to reports of a red kite being shot at Lochindorb Estate in Grantown-on-Spey around 11.15am on Monday.

The animal was later recovered by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), but its injuries were too severe.

It is illegal to kill predatory birds, with the animals being protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

READ MORE: Trapped, shot, poisoned: Warning over persecution of birds of prey

The Scottish Land and Estates moorland director, Ross Ewing, said the death was "deeply concerning". 

He said: "We echo Police Scotland’s call for information on this matter and would urge anyone that is able to assist the police’s inquiries to contact them as soon as possible.

“Everyone should do all they can to assist in tackling raptor crime, and the death of a protected bird of prey in these circumstances is deeply concerning.

"We hope the facts are established urgently and anyone with that can assist police comes forward as soon as possible.”

Officers are particularly interested to hear about any quad bike or off-road vehicle sightings.

Community police inspector Craig Johnstone said: “The red kite is a protected species and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is illegal to kill them.

“I am asking anyone in the local community who may be able to help with our inquiries to come forward. If you were walking in the area on Monday then please let us know if you saw anything.

“In particular, if you saw quad bikes in the area or off-road vehicles, then get in touch as even the smallest bit of information could assist with our investigation.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident number 1760 of Monday, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.