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Dead golden eagle had been poisoned

Police investigating the death of a golden eagle said today the bird had been poisoned.

Wildlife crime officers said they were following a positive line of inquiry in the hunt for the eagle's killers.

The bird of prey was found by walkers earlier this month in the Glen Orchy area of Argyll, northern Scotland.

Scottish Government scientists confirmed the eagle died from poisoning caused by toxic insecticide.

An extensive search of Beinn Udlaidh, where the carcass was found, was then carried out by police.

Local officers from Oban, along with specialist wildlife officers from Strathclyde, Lothian and Borders and Central Scotland Police, and the National Wildlife Crime Unit, were involved.

They were assisted by the RSPB, the Scottish SPCA and pesticide experts from the Scottish Government.

Police confirmed that after an operation earlier this week, which included searches of premises in the Glen Orchy and Bridge of Orchy areas, they were following a positive line of inquiry.

Bob Elliot, head of investigations with RSPB Scotland, said: "As ever, we're shocked and saddened that there are still people out there placing poisoned baits in the countryside, which often result in the deaths of some of our magnificent birds of prey.

"Scottish Natural Heritage's recently published golden eagle framework report showed that this iconic bird is being held back in parts of the country due to illegal persecution, which simply shouldn't happen in the 21st century."

Pc Stevie McAleer, wildlife crime officer for North Argyll, added: "I would urge any members of the public who may come across a dead bird or carcass to alert the police to the discovery.

"I would advise people not to touch the bird or the surrounding area.

"If possible, and if safe to do so, branches or grass should be thrown over the carcass to avoid it being seen and eaten by other animals or birds."