Police in Scotland have appealed for help in finding a golden eagle spotted flying with a trap dangling from its leg.
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, which the visitor handed to police, shows the eagle hovering with the trap clamped around its talons and a chain hanging from it.
In a tweet, North East Police said they are 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.”
Twitter users were quick to condemn whoever was responsible, with one calling it a “national disgrace”.
Another claimed to have also seen the eagle about an hour’s drive from the first sighting.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which is investigating alongside police, called it “sickening”.
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 type of traps are regularly seen in the illegal trapping of birds of prey on grouse moors, which cover about 20% of all land in Scotland.
The appeal came soon 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 (3ft), are the top predator in Scotland and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
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