THE RSPB are appealing for information after another of Scotland’s last remaining hen harriers “vanished” in suspicious circumstances on a driven grouse moor.

A satellite tag attached to Marci, a young female harrier, suddenly stopped transmitting last month in the Cairngorms National Park.

While the charity has not named the estate where the bird had been exploring, they revealed that her last recorded position was in an area managed intensively for driven grouse shooting near Strathdon, west Aberdeenshire.

Marci was satellite tagged as a chick in 2018 as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project, and fledged from a nest on National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge estate.

Skylar, another hen harrier tagged by the project, disappeared earlier this year, on February 7. Her last recorded position showed she was close to a South Lanarkshire grouse moor.

Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland’s head of investigations, said this was “the latest in a string of similar incidents”.

This was, he added, ”further strong evidence of the systematic targeting of protected birds of prey on Scotland’s driven grouse moors”.

He continued: “In just the past few years, the illegal killing of a buzzard, three goshawks and a hen harrier have been witnessed within a few miles of where Marci vanished.

“There have also been several confirmed poisonings; the filming of the illegal setting of traps; and the suspicious disappearances of several satellite-tagged eagles and other hen harriers.

“It is abundantly clear that current legislation is completely failing to protect our birds of prey, and robust regulation of the driven grouse shooting industry is both vital and long overdue.”

Solicitors representing the estate where Marci’s last recorded transmission was identified accused the RSPB of inferring wrongdoing with “very little evidence”.

David McKie, partner, Levy & McRae, said: “My clients have fully co-operated with the inquiry and will continue to help in any way that they can.

“I have written on my client’s behalf to RSPB to protest at what they consider to be a grave and unwarranted attack on them by the press release.”

In August 2018, another young satellite-tagged hen harrier named Margot vanished on a grouse moor just a few miles from Marci’s last recorded position. Like Margot, Marci’s tag was functioning normally until it suddenly stopped transmitting.