A peregrine falcon was found shot but alive in woodland at the Pass of Ballater.
The specially-protected schedule 1 bird was found by a local dog walker, in very poor condition, near Ballater, on April 27. The bird was so badly injured by the shooting, it had been unable to hunt and had lost a considerable amount of body weight, thus allowing it to be caught up.
The bird was taken to a local falconer before being taken to an specialist avian vet who, following x-ray examination, was able to confirm the bird had been shot using a shotgun with the pellets causing a serious fracture to the bird’s right leg.
Due to its injuries’ the bird had to be destroyed.
Force wildlife crime officer Dave MacKinnon said: “I am appealing for anyone, particularly in the Upper Deeside area, who may have information as to who is responsible for shooting this protected bird. It is an absolute disgrace that anyone thinks they have justification for shooting a rare and specially-protected bird.
There are a few known Pepregrine nest sites in the Ballater area. These birds like to nest on cliffs, hence the reason for them choosing to try to live and breed in upper Deeside.
“This latest incident of raptor persecution in Grampian clearly indicates that some people are still prepared to break the law, risking a custodial sentence, the reputation of their employers, their livelihoods and their right to possess firearms.” Grampian Police can be contacted on 0845 600 5700.
Bob Elliot, head of investigations at RSPB Scotland said: “Peregrines are spectacular birds of prey and incredible top predators, but despite being protected, are extremely vulnerable to human activities, including continued shooting, trapping and having their chicks illegally stolen from nests.
“The peregrine is a valuable indicator species of the health of the environment, but once its population is forced into artificial decline, it takes many years to recover.
“This peregrine may have been part of a territorial pair breeding in the area and shot close to a nest. We would reiterate that anyone with information regarding the shooting of this bird to get in touch with Grampian Police immediately.”