THE numbers of raptors found dead in a poisoning probe in the Highlands has risen to 20.
The birds of prey discovered in a two-square-mile area of Ross-shire has now been confirmed as consisting of 14 red kites and six buzzards.
The birds have all been located south east of Conon Bridge around Conon Brae, Balvail, Leanaig and Alcaig.
A police investigation was launched last month when six raptors were found dead. This has slowly risen over the last few weeks.
Following analysis of the birds’ remains, 12 have been confirmed as having digested a poisonous substance (nine red kites and three buzzards).
Post Mortem examinations and toxicology work continues into all the birds seized.
Local Area Commander for Ross and Cromarty, Chief Inspector Ross MacKillop said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank landowners, farmers and members of the local community in the Black Isle area for their patience, cooperation and assistance in dealing with this matter.
“All of our officers report that they received a great level of support and this is much appreciated.
“The most effective response to incidents like this is not just an appropriate police response but also a positive community response and that is what we continue to receive.”
Police have asked if anyone notices any suspicious activity in the area, that they report this information to them on 101 or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
A Police Scotland spokesman added: “Partner agencies would continue to remind members of the public that if anyone finds any further dead birds or animals in the area they are asked to make a note of its location and inform the police on 101.
“Under no circumstances should anyone touch or attempt to recover any dead animal.”