9 May 2016 by Kieran Beattie
A raptor has been put down after being shot on an Aberdeenshire estate.
The goshawk had come into the care of the north-east wildlife sanctuary New Arc late last month after it had been shot the week before in Strathdon.
At first, the bird – which had been affectionately named Bart – seemed to be in reasonably good health despite its injuries.
But, following an X-ray examination the next day, vets discovered a small metal bullet had become lodged in his chest, and that he had suffered severe damage to its left lung and shoulder.
Vets considered surgery, but deemed the procedure too risky and concluded that putting Bart down would be the more humane option.
Although goshawks are not a critically-endangered species in the UK, their population numbers have plummeted in recent years due to persecution and nest robbing – with only around 280 to 430 breeding pairs left in the wild, according to the RSPB.
Wildlife crime officers are now investigating the incident, which New Arc owner Keith Marley believes to have been a deliberate attempt to take Bart’s life.
Mr Marley said: “The guy who found him and brought Bart in said the bird was shot right in front of him while it was sitting on a dyke.