Eyewitness accounts of raptor crime are rare, but in May 2017 Police Scotland received a first-hand account of a man shooting a hen harrier on a driven grouse moor at Leadhills, South Lanarkshire.
That same month, on the same estate, another incident was reported. A witness heard a single gunshot, saw a person pick something up from the ground then pause briefly at a ditch as they walked back to their vehicle. The following day the RSPB retrieved the body of a short-eared owl which had been stuffed into the ditch. A post-mortem revealed the owl had been shot, causing multiple fractures to its wing, leg, foot, ribs and skull.
Police investigated both incidents but nobody has been charged for these crimes.
Head of Investigations RSPB Scotland, Ian Thomson said: “The shooting of a hen harrier and a short-eared owl on the Leadhills Estate in South Lanarkshire are indicative of the continuous and widespread problem faced by our protected raptors.”