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Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 07:19 GMT 08:19 UK
Anger over bird death toll
Golden Eagle
The golden eagle is among the threatened birds
A "totally unacceptable" number of birds of prey have been killed in Scotland, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has warned.

The RSPB said too many were still being poisoned, trapped and shot.

Now Scottish Environment Minister Sarah Boyack has indicated that she wants to give the courts more powers to punish wildlife criminals.

The RSPB said birds like golden eagles and red kites were still being killed illegally.

Red kite
Red kite are being targeted
Their nests were also being destroyed and their eggs stolen.

The organisation reported a decline in confirmed persecutions between 1998 and 1999.

However, it said the news was far from good this year as the problems were continuing.

In May a young golden eagle whose nest was protected round-the-clock by volunteers became one of the victims when it was found poisoned.

The dead bird was discovered by hillwalkers in West Perthshire, where its nest had been under surveillance for five years.

Better protection

A post-mortem examination found it was killed by bait laced with a well-known poison.

In a statement, Miss Boyack said she was already developing a policy to give better protection to Scotland's natural heritage.

She said she would be proposing measures to make life tougher for wildlife criminals generally, including the prospect of prison sentences for habitual offenders.

A conference of police wildlife liaison officers heard at the weekend of an increase in incidents ranging from badger-baiting to illegal taxidermy.

Rare eggs stolen in Scotland, it was said, often ended up in collections in England.

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See also:

23 May 00 | Scotland
Protected eagle found poisoned
20 Sep 99 | UK
Bird crimes on the increase
17 Aug 99 | Scotland
Golden eagles found poisoned
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