Conservationists are demanding landowners face jail terms of up to six months if illegally killed birds of prey are found on their property.
The calls come ahead of a hastily scheduled debate in the Scottish Parliament to address a recent spate of raptor poisonings in Ross-shire, where 22 birds of prey have been found dead.
Nature charities RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) are pressing for police and the Crown Office to make use of existing laws to impose prison terms for crimes against the nation’s protected species.
They are advocating a “zero tolerance” approach to persecution of wild animals and say tougher sentencing will discourage unlawful activity.
Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management for RSPB Scotland, said: “Existing laws should be implemented – both jail sentences, which we think would send out a strong deterrent, but also the ‘vicarious liability’ measure.”
Vicarious liability is the legal term for landowners being held responsible for the actions of their employees.