Swans have been accidently poisoned at a beauty spot near Mintlaw after a lake was drained, uncovering lead weights that are harmful to the birds.
Pitfour Lake, part of the Pitfour Estate, had been dredged meaning the birds which live there had started to feed on lead pellets that had fallen to the bottom of the lake, giving the swans lead-poisoning.
The sick birds were spotted by members of the North East Scotland Wildlife group who informed the animal rescue sanctuary The New Arc.
Keith Marley, who runs The New Arc, said: “The birds were taking on board all the lead that was in the bottom of the loch.
“We got in touch with SEPA to tell them of our concerns.”
Mr Marley believes that the poisoning of the birds will change the way lakes are drained in the future but SEPA have said that they have no plans to change legislation and are “not in a position to do so”.
A SEPA spokesperson said: “SEPA is aware that Pitfour Lake was recently drained and dredging works carried out by the landowner before refilling.
“SEPA officers have discussed this with the landowner, and on inspection observed no pollution impact on adjacent watercourses as a result of the works.
“Any future such works will be carried out in consultation with SEPA.”
Mr Marley was keen to stress that, “The people of Pitfour are blameless in this it’s just an unforeseen circumstance.”
The sanctuary owner did ask however that anyone feeding the swans does not feed them grain for the time being as the hard grain wears on the lead pellets and increases the speed of lead poisoning.