NatureScot is appealing to people to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code after several incidents of antisocial behaviour at Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve in Aberdeenshire.

A two-metre stretch of loch side at the reserve’s Loch Davan was damaged with trees cut down, a fire site left and fishing gear abandoned last month.

Fishing is not permitted on this loch. In a second incident in the same area a wildlife camera and signs were stolen as well as litter being left.

NatureScot works in partnership with Police Scotland, the Cairngorms National Park Authority rangers and local land managers to any tackle issues of antisocial behaviour on the reserve.

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Reserve manager Simon Ritchie said: “While the vast majority of visitors to Muir of Dinnet are very responsible, it’s disappointing that we’ve had two recent incidents of antisocial behaviour on the reserve which have resulted in unacceptable damage. We are very grateful to the police and our partners for swift collaborative action to tackle these issues when they arise.

“Muir of Dinnet is first and foremost a nature reserve, and our emphasis is on protecting wildlife while welcoming responsible visitor access. With warmer weather on the way, we’d also like to remind water sports enthusiasts to please stay off the reserve's lochs at this sensitive time of year for breeding birds. Activities such as paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing can disturb vulnerable birds such as goldeneye, and could even lead to ducklings becoming separated from their parents and dying.

“The water access guidance has been in place since 2021 and initial indications are this is making a real difference to vulnerable birds. We’d like to thank the vast majority of our visitors who act responsibly and help protect nature at this internationally important wildlife site.”

Colin Simpson, Head of Visitor Services and Active Travel at the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “The Cairngorms National Park Authority is happy to support NatureScot and other partners’ efforts to both welcome people to the National Park this spring while also ensuring sensitive areas and species are protected.

“As with last year, we have employed a team of Rangers who will be out on the ground welcoming visitors and helping them with advice and guidance on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and how they can minimise their impact.”

Restrictions on water access at Loch Kinord are in place each year between March 1 and August 31. People are also asked not to carry out water sports on Loch Davan at any time of year as it is too small to allow for any water access without disturbance. Fishing on Loch Kinord is by permit only, managed by Dinnet and Kinord Estate, and there is no fishing on Loch Davan.

NatureScot is also asking visitors to be aware of wildlife and to be alert when walking dogs in nature reserves, or anywhere in the countryside.

For more information on responsible outdoor access in Scotland, see The Scottish Outdoor Access Code website.