Number of birds of prey poisoned in Scotland doubles
The number of birds of prey illegally poisoned in Scotland doubled last year, a report has revealed.
Figures from the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (Paw) Scotland showed six birds were found to have been illegally poisoned.
The numbers remain well below a peak of 30 poisoned birds recorded in 2009.
A map published by Paw Scotland showed the location of all recorded crimes against birds of prey last year.
It has also published maps showing the birds of prey poisoning hotspots over the period from January 2009 until December 2013.
Two of the poisoning cases were discovered in Perthshire, two near Stirling, with one in Angus and the other south of Edinburgh.
In total, there were 15 recorded crimes against birds of prey including shootings, trappings and nest destruction in Scotland last year.
The RSPB said the figures were "very worrying" and showed that birds continued to be persecuted in the Scottish countryside, whether by deliberate or accidental means.
The report was published as police investigated the deaths of 11 birds of prey - seven red kites and four buzzards - in Ross-shire over the last week. Wildlife officers suspect criminal behaviour but the causes of the deaths are yet to be established.
Reacting to the figures, Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB head of species and land management, said: "It is very worrying that the number of detected illegal poisoning incidents has shown an increase on the previous year.
"We acknowledge Scottish government efforts to tackle these appalling crimes, which have no place in modern Scotland, and agree that the production of these annual raptor crime maps makes a significant contribution to public awareness of this issue."
The other reported criminal incidents in the report show the deliberate targeting of vulnerable raptor species including hen harriers, red kites, and both golden and sea eagles.