Rare sea eagle found dead in Aberdeenshire had been poisoned

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white tailed sea eagleImage source, Police Scotland

A rare eagle which was found dead in Aberdeenshire had been poisoned, police have confirmed.

Officers said they are treating the death of the white-tailed sea eagle as suspicious.

Its corpse was recovered from Donside, Aberdeenshire, in April, and a post-mortem examination has now established it died from pesticide poisoning.

The raptors were reintroduced into Scotland in the 1970s after becoming extinct in the UK in the early 1900s.

There are now over 150 breeding pairs in Scotland.

Insp Sheila McDerment, of Police Scotland, said: "As well as being illegal, poisoning is a cruel way to kill a bird.

"It also puts the lives of other creatures and plants at risk and impacts negatively on our environment.

"This incident is particularly upsetting because these rare and beautiful birds had been reintroduced to Scotland after being extinct throughout the UK."

She appealed to anyone with information to contact the police.

Image source, PA Media

Ian Thomson, of RSPB Scotland, said it was "appalling news" that the bird had been illegally poisoned.

He added: "This crime would never have come to light had the bird not been fitted with a satellite tag.

"The killing of this young eagle can be added to a litany of raptor persecution incidents in recent years, including previous poisonings and multiple disappearances of similarly-tagged birds of prey.

"Poisoning is vicious and indiscriminate."

The Scottish Gamekeepers' Association's chairman, Alex Hogg, said he condemned the bird's poisoning "wholeheartedly".

He continued: "In 2010, there were 32 wildlife poisonings in Scotland. That was unacceptable.

"The SGA committed to Scottish government that we would do all we could to address the issue within our own industry.

"We delivered on that promise. Today, thankfully, these cases are now extremely rare in this country.

"We acknowledge sea eagles can pose problems in land management; something which is well documented, but this is absolutely the wrong way to address a conflict."

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