Nearly 250 wildlife crimes were recorded by Police Scotland between April 2014 and February 2015 including persecuting badgers, poisoning birds of prey and trading in some of the world’s most endangered species.

The force works with partners across the country to tackle wildlife crime - and in a new campaign they call on the public to be aware and to report suspicions of criminal activity.

Each division has a Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer who acts as the point of contact for members of the public and police officers who are looking for advice about wildlife issues in their areas.

The campaign was launched less than four weeks after two Harris Hawks were stolen from the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre. Stewart Robertson, centre director, told the Advertiser that the birds had still not been found, but he hoped that due to word spreading on social media it would not be long until they were reunited.

He said: “We are still looking for the birds, there have been plenty of phone calls with potential sightings and we are following them all up. “There’s an awful lot of people that have followed us on Twitter since the launch of the campaign here, and since we put out the word the birds were missing. There have been lots of retweets. It’s good to get the word out there.

“As soon as we discovered the birds had been taken we put it on Facebook and Twitter, and it went viral. The word spread far and wide, people in the business know about it. “Hopefully one day we will get a phone call that will lead us right to them.” Constable Andy Crawford, based at Helensburgh, is the Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer for Argyll and West Dunbartonshire. He said: “My job is to provide advice and information relating to wildlife issues and I have been involved in a range of investigations including deer poaching in Arrochar, the disturbance of bats in Hardgate and a badger set disturbance in Dumbarton and Clydebank.

“In recent weeks, police received a report of two Harris Hawks having been stolen from Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre. I was in a position to quickly provide assistance to the enquiry, including having a press release prepared to circulate news of the theft to a wide audience linked to wildlife issues throughout Scotland such as the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

“I also provided support with a rare case of two Golden Eagles found dead on the Island of Jura. There were a number of hurdles to overcome in this case, mainly down to geography.

“Due to the rural nature of many wildlife issues it is necessary to call on local officers to assist and their knowledge of the locality and communities is invaluable.

“As a result, within an hour or so of receiving limited details, I was able to use my experience and more comprehensive information from local sources to determine that the birds had been electrocuted on power lines.

“The power company has since made arrangements to place devices on the power lines to make them more visible to birds and prevent future incidents.

“The majority of residents in our communities can enjoy watching wildlife of some description from a window in their homes. Be it a robin on a bird table to a badger or a fox in the undergrowth. They are there to be enjoyed and admired. They have no voice and we must act on their behalf.

“This campaign sends a clear message to criminals engaging in wildlife crime – it is a crime that we take extremely seriously and anyone caught will be arrested.” Anyone with information about wildlife crime can report it directly to the police or through the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland (PAWS) app.