WILDLIFE campaigner Chris Packham has claimed the illegal killing of birds of prey is “out of control” after highlighting the death of a hen harrier caught in an illegally-set trap on a grouse moor in South Lanarkshire.

A new video tells how the bird had to be put down after suffering severe leg injuries.

The distressed creature was found by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group, who were carrying routine raptor monitoring on May 11. It says a second spring trap had been placed on a nearby nest. The nest contained two eggs, but there was no sign of the breeding female.

Springwatch presenter Packham says: “This despicable crime marks a most depressing day for raptor conservation in the UK and undoubtedly the darkest day for the whole shooting industry. It’s out of control, obviously beyond any form of self-regulation, and is tolerant of an utter contempt for the laws which are meant to protect our wildlife.”

Police Scotland confirmed the hen harrier’s death was reported to the force and said enquiries were continuing.

Landowners’ and gamekeepers’ organisations hit out over the hen harrier’s death. A spokesperson for Scottish Land & Estates said: “We utterly condemn all forms of wildlife crime, including persecution against birds of prey, and we are committed to working with police and other partners to find out what has happened.

“We would urge anyone with information to make it known to Police Scotland as soon as possible.”

Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg said: “Setting a trap illegally to catch a bird of prey is simply not acceptable. The SGA wholeheartedly condemns the actions of whoever has perpetrated this crime and hope the Police can gather evidence to enable the courts to do their job.

“Scottish Government, working with Police Scotland, have powers under present legislation to deal with crimes such as this.”

RSPB figures show there have been at least 70 confirmed raptor persecution crimes on and close to a number of grouse moors in the South Lanarkshire region over 15 years.

Responding to the latest discovery, Wightman said: “This is a terrible act of barbarism and I hope the perpetrators are caught. Sadly, though, these incidents are all too common and prosecutions are rare.

“For all the Scottish Government’s reviews and inquiries, rampant organised criminality remains in place across many of Scotland’s driven grouse moors.”

Revive, a coalition of organisations working for grouse moor reform in Scotland, joined Wightman in calling for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to act.

Campaign manager Max Wiszniewski said: “It is desperately sad to hear of yet another case of birds of prey being targeted on Scotland’s grouse moors and absolutely staggering that someone would be so callous as to set a trap within a nest.”