June 27 2019, 11.34am
A hen harrier that was being tracked by a leading bird welfare charity has been found dead in an illegal trap on a Perthshire moor.
The young female, named Rannoch, was said to have suffered “significantly” before she died in the open spring snare.
Rannoch had been fitted with a satellite tag by RSPB Scotland, as part of the organisation’s Hen Harrier LIFE conservation programme.
Her movements had been closely followed by the charity until November when she stopped moving in an area of moorland between Crieff and Aberfeldy.
The solar-powered tag battery had drained before accurate information could be gathered to find her. When the tag came back online in May, RSPB Scotland was able to get enough data to track down her remains.
A post mortem report from the SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) veterinary laboratory states: “The bird was trapped by the left leg in a spring trap at time of death.
“Death will have been due to a combination of shock and blood loss, if it died quickly or to exposure and dehydration/starvation if it died slowly.
“Either way the bird will have experienced significant unnecessary suffering.”
Dr Cathleen Thomas, project manager for Hen Harrier LIFE said: “We are absolutely devastated that Rannoch has been a victim of crime. The life of this beautiful bird was cut short in the most horrific way due to human actions.
“Satellite tagging has revealed the amazing journeys made by hen harriers, but also uncovers who their journeys end.”
She said: “Often the birds disappear with their tags suddenly ceasing to function as perpetrators go to great lengths to hide the evidence of their crimes.
“Rannoch’s death in a spring trap is evidence of one way in which these birds are being killed.”
She said, in terms of population size, hen harriers are now the most persecuted bird of prey in the UK and numbers are now “perilously” low.
“Every loss we suffer impacts the continued survival of the species.”