GRAMPIAN Police are appealing for information after a protected hen harrier was found shot dead on an Aberdeenshire estate last month.
Officers from the force’s Wildlife Crime Unit are investigating the discovery of the remains of the bird of prey by employees on the Fettercairn estate, near Cairn o’Mount, on Saturday, 13 October.
A force spokesman said: “Investigations have established that the bird had been shot and officers are appealing to members of the public who may have been in the area and may have seen something suspicious.
“Gamekeeping staff at Fettercairn Estate have already provided significant assistance to police in their enquiries and continue to work closely in the hope that the offender can be identified and brought to justice.”
Constable Gavin Lindsay, the force’s Wildlife Crime Coordinator, said: “It’s most disappointing someone has taken it upon themselves to kill such a wonderful bird. There are very few Hen Harriers in the north east of Scotland and for someone to have done this to such a rare bird is astounding.
“I appeal to all members of the public who might have seen someone acting suspiciously in the area on or around 13 October or who knows the person responsible for this crime to come forward and notify police to assist with our ongoing investigations.”
Katie Somervell, the owner of the estate, said: “Since its inception in 2006 Fettercairn Estate has been a long term participant in the North East Scotland Raptor Watch project. As such it was particularly distressing to hear that a dead hen harrier was found on the edge of the hill land and I join in the appeal for witnesses to come forward.”
Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s Environment Minister, also condemned the illegal killing. He declared: “This is another absolutely deplorable crime involving the shooting of one of our rarest species of raptor and I thank the Estate and Keeper involved for bringing this matter to the attention of the authorities which is in keeping with their positive engagement on wildlife crime issues
“We will not tolerate the illegal persecution of protected species such as the hen harrier and, as I have said recently in relation to another shooting, I am prepared to look at further measures to strengthen and assist enforcement if we continue to see this flouting of the law in respect of protected species.”