Bird watchers and hillwalkers are being asked to keep an eye out for hen harriers in an attempt to conserve their numbers.
New wildlife crime legislation targeting landowners is being linked with a sharp drop in the numbers of birds of prey poisoned in Scotland.
The Scottish SPCA was alerted on Saturday after a member of the public discovered the injured bird in north-east Dumfries and Galloway, adjacent to the Southern Upland Way.
The golden eagle is now receiving veterinary treatment and specialist care at the charity’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said:
“This eagle has been caused tremendous pain and suffering. It became grounded after being shot, which caused the feathers on its tail and wings to break and meant it was unable to search for food.
“If the eagle hadn’t been found on Saturday it is very likely it would have starved to death. Golden eagles are extremely rare and it is very concerning that someone would deliberately try to injure or kill such a magnificent creature.
“As well as being cruel, injuring a wild bird is also a criminal offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and we are very keen to speak to anyone who has information about this incident. This eagle will require lengthy rehabilitation and expert treatment in our care.
“Although it’s very early days yet, it is feeding now and we are hopeful it will make a full recovery and we will be able to release it back into the wild next year.”
Stuart Housden, director RSPB Scotland, said:
“With one golden eagle already found poisoned this year, and a second bird the apparent victim of an illegal trap, this is yet another appalling incident. Whoever pulled the trigger must have deliberately targeted one of our most iconic birds, with lethal intentions.
“Whoever it was has access to a shotgun, and the confidence to use it in this area. Much has been made of an apparent recent decline in the illegal poisoning of Scotland’s birds of prey, but this, and other recent criminal incidents, show that efforts to stamp out the illegal persecution of strictly protected wildlife have a considerable way to go.”