GRAMPIAN gamekeepers have asked the public not to hamper "legitimate moorland activities" after a number of legal traps were damaged close to a popular walking area.

The traps, which are approved by Scottish Natural Heritage to be deployed by trained gamekeepers to control predators such as stoats and weasels, were interfered with on a grouse estate in the Aboyne area of the Cairngorms National Park.

The local Grampian Moorland Group said that those using the moors for access should not handle traps, especially as tampering by non-trained individuals can lead to accidents.

Grampian Moorland Group co-ordinator Lianne MacLennan said: “Interference with predator control traps is illegal and we would appeal to anyone who sees them whilst out walking not to move or handle them, even if they are curious as to why they are there.

“These traps are set by trained professionals, for a legitimate purpose. Thankfully, the majority of walkers enjoy the moors and are mindful they are places of work as well as recreation. In this particular instance, the damaged traps were left open and could have posed a danger, in an area where there are lots of dog walkers.

“We want people to be safe so we would ask members of the public to leave the traps alone. If they want to find our more about them, they should engage with the gamekeepers who will be able to tell them why and how they are used.”