Plea after Hen Harrier shot in Fettercairn

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, adult male perched in flight with twig, Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve, Islay, Scotland. June
Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, adult male perched in flight with twig, Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve, Islay, Scotland. June

Grampian Police are appealing for information after a dead Hen Harrier was found in Aberdeenshire in October.

Officers from Grampian Police Wildlife Crime Unit were alerted to the discovery, made by employees at Fettercairn estate on Saturday 13 October 2012.

The bird’s remains were found on a hill track very popular with walkers and visible from the nearby main road over the Cairn O’ Mount.

Investigations have established that the bird had been shot and officers are appealing to members of the public who may have been in the area and may have seen something suspicious.

Wildlife Crime Coordinator, Constable Gavin Lindsay, said: “It’s most disappointing someone has taken it upon themselves to kill such a wonderful bird. There are very few Hen Harriers in the north east of Scotland and for someone to have done this to such a rare bird is astounding.

“I appeal to all members of the public who might have seen someone acting suspiciously in the area on or around October 13 or who knows the person responsible for this crime to come forward and notify police to assist with our ongoing investigations.”

Gamekeeping staff at Fettercairn Estate have already provided significant assistance to police in their enquiries and continue to work closely in the hope that the offender can be identified and brought to justice.

Estate owner, Katie Somervell, said: “Since its inception in 2006 Fettercairn Estate has been a long term participant in the North East Scotland Raptor Watch project. As such it was particularly distressing to hear that a dead Hen Harrier was found on the edge of the hill land and I join in the appeal for witnesses to come forward.”

Environment Minister and PAW Scotland Chairman Paul Wheelhouse said: “This is another absolutely deplorable crime involving the shooting of one of our rarest species of raptor and I thank the Estate and Keeper involved for bringing this matter to the attention of the authorities which is in keeping with their positive engagement on wildlife crime issues. If anybody has any information about the killing of this young hen harrier I would urge them to contact the police as a matter of urgency.

“We will not tolerate the illegal persecution of protected species such as the hen harrier and, as I have said recently in relation to another shooting, I am prepared to look at further measures to strengthen and assist enforcement if we continue to see this flouting of the law in respect of protected species. I raised this case when I chaired the PAW Scotland meeting earlier today and members were unanimous in condemning this latest incident.”

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Grampian Police on 0845 600 5 700, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you wish to remain anonymous.