Page last updated at 09:18 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 10:18 UK

Police probe over poisoned eagle

RSPB Scotland's Bob Elliot with the dead eagle
RSPB Scotland's head of investigations Bob Elliot with the dead eagle

Police have confirmed that a Golden Eagle found dead in Argyll had been poisoned with insecticide.

The bird of prey was found by walkers on the slopes of Beinn Udlaidh in the Glen Orchy area on 7 June. They alerted the RSPB which then called in police.

A major search of the area - including several buildings - was made 10 days later by officers from the wildlife crime unit and government scientists.

Police have said they are following a positive line of inquiry.

The dead eagle was examined by biologists and chemists from the Scottish Government's Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture.

It's likely that this bird was part of a breeding pair in Argyll, so the crime may have affected the chances of survival of young birds in the nest too
Bob Elliot
RSPB Scotland

They concluded that the bird had died from poisoning caused by toxic insecticide.

The RSPB alerted Strathclyde Police and a major search of Beinn Udlaidh and the surrounding area was undertaken on 17 June.

The operation, which covered premises in the Glen Orchy and Bridge of Orchy areas, involved officers from the Oban Community Policing Team along with specialist wildlife officers from Strathclyde, Lothian and Borders and Central Scotland Police.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit was also involved, assisted by the RSPB, the Scottish SPCA and pesticide experts from the Scottish Government.

Con Stevie McAleer, wildlife crime officer for North Argyll, who co-ordinated the operation, said: "I would urge any members of the public who may come across a dead bird or carcass to alert the police to the discovery.

'Shocked and saddened'

"I would advise people not to touch the bird or the surrounding area. If possible, and if safe to do so, branches or grass should be thrown over the carcass to avoid it being seen and eaten by other animals or birds."

Bob Elliot, head of investigations with RSPB Scotland said: "As ever, we're shocked and saddened that there are still people out there placing poisoned baits in the countryside, which often result in the deaths of some of our magnificent birds of prey.

"This area doesn't have a recent track record of wildlife crime, which is even more worrying in a way.

"It's likely that this bird was part of a breeding pair in Argyll, so the crime may have affected the chances of survival of young birds in the nest too."

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