Police are appealing for information after a golden eagle was found dead near Morar in Lochaber in March.
A post-mortem conducted by the Scottish Government laboratory of Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture has shown that the eagle had been poisoned with banned pesticides.
A multi-agency investigation continues, involving Northern Constabulary, National Wildlife Crime Unit and RSPB Scotland.
This is the third known eagle poisoning incident in the area over the last ten years, with two white-tailed sea eagles the previous victims.
Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations for RSPB Scotland says: ‘Despite the hard work being done by the police and partner agencies, some individuals continue to disregard the law and public opinion by killing protected birds of prey.
‘Sadly, this is just the latest in a long list of golden eagles found poisoned over the last few years – and that only represents those actually discovered. Who knows how many of these magnificent birds are killed but never found?
‘We condemn the actions of those who continue to kill Scotland’s birds of prey and hope that any one with information related to this or other wildlife crimes will step up and pass this to the police or contact Crimestoppers’.
Chief Inspector Matthew Reiss, Northern Constabulary’s Wildlife Crime Coordinator says: ‘Wildlife tourism is an increasingly significant income generator in the highland economy, and particularly so in the West Lochaber area of the Highlands.
‘Poisoning is indiscriminate – it could be your pet dog or even a human – that could be killed, simply by contact with these illegal poisons.
‘This is a completely unacceptable and illegal practice.
‘People who use illegal poisons are threatening the economy by killing the very wildlife that people visit the area to enjoy viewing. These visitors are contributing significant spending in the area, so crimes such as this are also threatening the jobs of people directly and indirectly reliant on the income derived from wildlife tourism.’
PC Charlie Everitt of the National Wildlife Crime Unit says: ‘The poisoning of this Golden Eagle demonstrates how indiscriminate this practice is and flies in the face of the steady work currently being undertaken by the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime. All raptor poisoning cases will continue to be fully investigated.’
The poisoned eagle was fitted with a satellite transmitter in 2010 prior to fledging from a nest in a habitat management area created by Scottish Power Renewables beside Beinn an Tuirc winfarm on the Kintyre peninsula.
Peter Robson, Ecologist at Scottish Power Renewables, says: ‘We were saddened and disappointed to find out that one of the Golden Eagles from Beinn an Tuirc had been poisoned.
‘The habitat restoration project at the windfarm has been a great success, producing four healthy golden eagle chicks in a short period of time following a long run of barren years. The data from the tracking device was providing experts with a unique insight into the movement patterns of golden eagles during their early years. It is a sad loss, and a setback for all those involved in the conservation of Golden Eagles in Scotland.’
Anyone with information relating to this case is urged to put civic duty first – these crimes are despicable and widely dangerous – to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or Northern Constabulary on 01463 715555.