FOUR men have been charged over crimes against wildlife in rural Scotland, police say.

The move follows "extensive investigations" this year into reports of ongoing persecution against protected birds of prey and other wildlife, according to Police Scotland.

The four — aged 59, 52, 46 and 31 — have been charged in connection with "a number of wildlife crime offences" in the Stewartry area of Dumfries & Galloway.

A report has been submitted to the procurator fiscal in the wake of incidents said to have occured in the area of Parton, near Castle Douglas. 

Wildlife Crime Officer Constable John Cowan said: "All allegations of wildlife crime are taken very seriously and matters such as this will be investigated vigorously in Dumfries & Galloway.

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"We have excellent relationships with members of the public in our rural communities and they are only too keen to let us know when the magnificent wildlife in the area is coming to harm.

"We will continue to robustly investigate wildlife crime alongside our many partners in the hope that we can completely eradicate such practices."