Page last updated at 14:25 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Rise in bird of prey poisonings

Poisoned golden eagle
Two golden eagles were poisoned in Scotland last year

The number of birds of prey being killed with poison in Scotland has increased, according to new figures.

A total of 22 poisonings were recorded in 2009, resulting in 27 dead raptors, including 19 buzzards, four red kites and two golden eagles.

A map depicting "poison hotspots" in Scotland for 2009 showed the area with the highest number of incidents was Tayside, where nine were recorded.

The 2009 deaths were up on 2008 but the same as 2007 and lower than 2006.

The most common type of poison used to kill the animals was carbofuran.

The 2009 map showed that in the past year there were five birds poisoned in Lothian and Borders, three in the Highlands and three across Strathclyde.

'Indiscriminate activity'

In Grampian and Dumfries and Galloway, police dealt with one incident of poisoning each.

Scotland's Environment Minister Rosanna Cunningham said the figures were a "wake-up call" to those who thought such poisonings were on the wane.

She added: "This continued persecution of our precious wildlife is simply incomprehensible.

Experience tells us that this represents just a fraction of the true scale of this illegal activity
Duncan Orr-Ewing
RSPB Scotland

"Poisoning is an arbitrary method of killing which poses serious risks to other animals, and potentially people, in our countryside."

Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, said the figures were among the highest on record.

He said: "Experience tells us that this represents just a fraction of the true scale of this illegal activity, which persist with shocking regularity in some areas of Scotland.

"There is now ample evidence to demonstrate the significant impact of this on the populations of some of Scotland's most iconic species, including the golden eagle."

He added: "We ask the authorities to deploy the full range of sanctions against the perpetrators of this indiscriminate activity, and to send a clear message that this will not be tolerated in the Scottish countryside of the 21st Century."

In 2005 there were 17 birds killed, 34 in 2006, 27 in 2007, 16 in 2008 and 27 in 2009.

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