Golden eagle spotted with trap dangling from leg near Queen's Balmoral estate

The golden eagle was spotted with a trap dangling from one of its legs
The golden eagle was spotted with a trap dangling from one of its legs
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An appeal has been launched to help find a golden eagle spotted with a trap dangling from its leg near the Queen's residence in the Scottish Highlands.

A tourist photographed the bird of prey last week as it was flying over the Aberdeenshire village of Crathie, close to the royal family's Balmoral estate in the Cairngorms National Park.

The picture showed the eagle hovering with the trap clamped around its talons and a chain hanging from it.

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In a tweet, North East Police said they were appealing for information to help locate the eagle "seen flying in the #Crathie area of #Deeside last week with what appears to be a trap attached to its leg".

The incident is being investigated by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

RSPB Scotland's head of investigations Ian Thomson told The Independent: "There is no way a bird of prey could become caught in a legally set trap and as such it is absolutely clear this incident is a result of criminality."

The same style of traps have been regularly used in illegal trapping activities to catch birds of prey on grouse moors.

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Police Scotland issued the appeal appeal less than 48 hours after the so-called "Glorious Twelfth" - the first day of the annual grouse shooting season - amid Labour Party calls for a review into the practice.

Golden eagles, which can grow to have a wingspan of nearly 90cm, are the top predator in Scotland and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.