POLICE DNA-tested at least three men suspected of poisoning buzzards – even though the dead birds turned out to be hens.
Police Scotland said a fortnight ago that it had launched a probe into the deaths of the six raptors, whose remains were found in a field near Fourdon, Aberdeenshire.
Although police did not point the finger of blame, previous cases of raptor poisoning have involved landowners, gamekeepers and farmers.
But yesterday (Thu) the force issued a statement in which it confirmed the birds were not buzzards.
A spokeswoman added: “Our understanding is that the birds are for domestic or food purposes. They are somewhere between a chicken and a turkey.”
A source with knowledge of the inquiry said the birds were hens – which are about half the size of a buzzard.
Jim Scott, 38, a local joiner, confirmed he had been DNA-tested and fingerprinted in relation to the “Buzzard” deaths.
He said: “I was sitting watching telly when the police showed up.
“I told them it was awful funny to find six buzzards shot. or poisoned there. I said to them as a joke, ‘Are you sure it’s not hens you’ve found? They never really said much to that.
“They should have got their facts right first. I never thought it would go so far.”
Local farmer Donald Mackenzie said he and his daughter’s partner were DNA tested.
He said: “I was very surprised when the police turned up.
“They should have got their facts straight and identified the animals before taking such drastic measures.
“We knew they weren’t buzzards because you could stand there all week and you wouldn’t be able to shoot six buzzards.”
An insider said Police Scotland had been left with egg on their face.
“It’s quite hilarious really although local people have been worried. Police have put people through an ordeal.”
Police Scotland said in a statement that they could “confirm that extensive enquiries and specialist examination of remains has taken place after officers were made aware of the reported death of six buzzards in the Fordoun area”.
The force added: “Following close liaison with partner agencies officers can now confirm the birds were not Raptors or a protected species.
“The remains of the birds were discovered in a field approximately one mile northwest of Fordoun on an unclassified road leading from Fordoun to Auchenblae at around 1530hrs on Wednesday 1st October 2014 and it is understood they had been there for several weeks.
“Wildlife Crime is a priority for Police Scotland and within Aberdeenshire and Moray Division we take such reports very seriously and were grateful to be notified of the incident, however enquiries will now be drawn to a close.”
By Katherine Sutherland