Glasgow & West Scotland

Police probe death of tagged hen harrier

Female hen harrier Image copyright RSPB
Image caption Hen harriers are a protected species in the UK

Police have launched an appeal after a hen harrier was found dead with unexplained injuries near Dunoon.

The bird named Kathy had been satellite-tagged as a chick on the Cowal Peninsula in August as part of the RSPB's Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project.

But staff became concerned when data suggested she hadn't moved since 3 October.

Kathy was found dead two days later and a post-mortem examination found she had unexplained injuries.

Police Scotland fear they may have been sustained as a result of criminality.

PC Donald Mackay said: "I appeal to anyone who knows what happened to Kathy to contact Police Scotland so that we can establish how she may have died.

"Although this would be an isolated incident in my area, it is concerning that a raptor may have been deliberately killed in Argyll.

"Hen harriers are a particularly fragile bird of prey in terms of their numbers in the UK, and Police Scotland will work with its partners to thoroughly investigate this incident and robustly deal with any person who may have been involved."

Satellite technology

Will Hayward, Investigations Officer for RSPB Scotland, said the case highlights a wider problem.

He added: "If criminal cause of death is confirmed, this incident will sadly be another statistic to add to a catalogue of hen harriers that meet their end in this way.

"Only through the use of satellite technology are we finally getting an accurate picture of the true scale of a human persecution problem that has been denied by some parties for decades.

"We look forward to hearing the results of the police investigation into this hen harrier death in due course."

A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "We support and reiterate the police's call for information regarding the death of this Harrier.

"If anyone should know anything at all, they should contact Police Scotland immediately."

Hen harriers are one of the country's most threatened birds of prey, with the latest national survey recording only 460 breeding pairs in Scotland - a drop of 27% since 2004.

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