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Police and RSPB appeal for help to identify wildlife criminals

Last modified: 17 February 2015

Adult goshawk

Image: Mark Hamblin

In May 2014, a video camera deployed by RSPB Scotland staff to monitor a goshawk nest at Glenochty, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire on land owned by Forestry Commission Scotland, and within the Cairngorms National Park, captured footage revealing a group of men repeatedly visiting the area in what appears to be an attempt to kill the birds and destroy the nest.

The goshawk is a specially protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence for anybody to visit active nests without a licence issued by Scottish Natural Heritage, or to recklessly kill, take or destroy these birds or their eggs and dependent young. 

The Scottish goshawk population has only 150 breeding pairs and it is one of our scarcest breeding raptor species, now recovering its populations after years of human persecution.

Police Scotland’s Aberdeenshire and Moray Divisional Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer, Mike Whyte, said 'Police, RSPB and other organisations continuously work together in response to the illegal activities of a handful of individuals who operate outwith accepted practices.  

'In this case it is in direct conflict with one of the UK Wildlife Crime priorities, Raptor Persecution, an offence which by its rural geographic location is one that is historically difficult to detect.'

Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations at RSPB Scotland, said: 'This video footage captured by our camera shows what appears to be an illegal incident involving the deliberate targeting of one of our rarest and specially protected birds of prey. We are appealing to anybody with information about this incident to contact the police on 101 or on Crimestoppers as a matter of urgency. 

'On account of serious concerns about the impacts of illegal activity on the Scottish goshawk population, RSPB Scotland is now offering a reward of £1,000 for any information that subsequently leads to a successful conviction in this case.'

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Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.

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