A golden eagle has been spotted high above Deeside with its leg caught in a trap

Scottish police and conservation bodies are trying to find a young golden eagle that was photographed flying near Crathie, in Scotland, with a trap attached to its leg.

A young golden eagle has been spotted flying above the Cairngorms National Park, in Scotland, with a trap clamped onto one of its legs.

The beleaguered bird was spotted by a tourist near Crathie, in Deeside, last week and took a picture, which went viral on Tuesday. The eagle has not been seen since then.

Concerned for the bird’s welfare, police in Scotland have issued an appeal, encouraging anyone with any information to call 101.

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The golden eagle is one of the UK’s largest birds of prey. Once a common sight across the entire country, it was heavily persecuted in England and Wales until it disappeared in the 19th century. The bird still survives in Scotland and, although there have been reports of poisoning, numbers are on the up, reports The Wildlife Trusts, thanks to concerted conservation efforts.

In the few past months, however, two satellite-tagged golden eagles vanished in Pertshire, and now the trapped bird, whose leg may be broken, is at risk of dying if it’s not found soon.

‘There have been a number of incidences where birds of prey have been caught in similar traps resulting in fatalities and we are concerned for the fate of this eagle if it is not caught soon so it can receive veterinary treatment,’ says Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations for RSPB Scotland. ‘We urge the public to report any sightings to the police.’

Conservation groups across the UK have expressed outrage at the sighting, with many believing that the eagle was caught in an illegal trap. ‘There is no way this should happen with a lawfully-set trap,’ the RSPB said in a tweet.

Some, like Chris Packham, have used the bird’s plight to turn the spotlight on the grouse-shooting industry. Mr Packham posted a Tweet implying that the trap might have been set by gamekeepers:

However, both the Grampian Moorland Group and Scottish Land & Estates, an association of Scottish landowners, have countered that local gamekeepers are actively involved in helping the police with the search.

‘There is clearly concern for the welfare of this bird and estates in the area are already helping with the search,’ Scottish Land & Estates said in a statement. ‘Eagles are often seen on estates in the area and are a welcome sight. We hope this birds can be traced as soon as possible.’