The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) has sent a letter to environment minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP, following the RSPB’s assertions that a golden eagle found in Deeside in May 2012 was killed following persecution.

The eagle had suffered two broken legs, which the RSPB claims were sustained by being caught in illegal traps.

The SGA’s letter expresses the organisation’s concerns at the incident being recorded as a crime, and outlines its own investigations.

Its report maintains that traps used by the estate on which the bird was injured were Mark 4 Fenn traps, which the SGA believes are too weak to smash an eagle’s legs.

Furthermore, the likelihood of an eagle getting both of its feet into any of those traps at the same time is very small.

One explanation offered is that the eagle could have flown into a deer fence, thus breaking its legs.

However, the SGA does admit that without the full postmortem report, X-rays and all the telemetry data, it is difficult to come to a definitive analysis.

RSPB Scotland responded to the letter by calling the SGA “apologists for the worst types of wildlife crime” and rejecting “these unprofessional assertions”.

Shooting Times spoke to Constable Blair Wilkie, of Tayside Police, who said: “Tayside Police is continuing to enquire into the full set of circumstances.”

Constable Wilkie said that until the case was complete, the police would not speculate.

She explained that, as the case was reported as a crime, the police are legally obliged to treat it as such, unless there is proof that it was not a crime.

Meanwhile, a Scottish Government spokeswoman told Shooting Times: “It would be inappropriate to comment on details of any case that is the subject of a police investigation.”

To read the SGA’s statement in full, visit: bit.ly/XH6ByG

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Game keepers contest RSPB’s view of eagle death