A HIGHLAND MSP has called for an amnesty on poison and pesticides in a bid to rid Ross-shire of "raptor persecution".
Rhoda Grant's comments came in a debate at the Scottish Parliament on wildlife crime.
She made the remarks in the wake of rising death toll of red kites and buzzards, many confirmed to have been poisoned, in recent weeks within a two-square-mile area of the Black Isle.
She said “I would also ask for an amnesty for pesticides and poisons. These could be lying about in outhouses and barns undisturbed for many years.
"While they are there they could fall into the wrong hands.The packaging could also disintegrate and the poison could then become open to birds and animals. An amnesty would remove them from circulation”.
She said: “In recent years the police have set up Wildlife Crime Units and they work in partnership with organisations such as the RSPB, SSPCA and the NFU to try to address the issue.
“The main difficulty in identifying offenders is that these crimes take place in isolated and remote areas.
“Usually poisonings are uncovered by pure chance, by hill walkers or by people engaging in other outdoor sports activity.
"Donald Dewar said that raptor killing in Scotland was a 'national disgrace'. It is something we should all be ashamed of and do our utmost to stop this horrible crime.
“The offence of vicarious liability in relation to the persecution of wild birds, where one person may potentially be legally responsible for the actions of another person, should have provided additional protection.
“However, this again is a difficult crime to prosecute. There is a defence that they did not know that an employee was engaging in such activity. Another defence is that the individual took all reasonable steps to prevent the offence being committed.
“This legislation should perhaps be reviewed to ensure that it provides the maximum protection."
To date, a total of 22 red kites and buzzards have been found dead in Ross-shire in the past few weeks.