A Scottish farmer has admitted using an illegal pesticide, which can prove fatal to humans, in an effort to control foxes.

Tony McKeller of Auch Estate, near Bridge of Orchy, Argyle, pleaded guilty to using the banned pesticide carbofuran after carcasses of birds of prey and other animals were discovered.

Oban Sheriff Court heard hill walkers contacted the RSPB after they found a body of a golden eagle.

During an investigation, police also found a dead sheep and fox containing traces of the chemical.

Carbofuran was initially intended as an anti-slug pesticide, which was drilled into the ground to prevent wildlife being killed.

But it was banned in 2001 after it was found it was so toxic that a single grain could kill a bird, while a teaspoon could kill a person.

Lawyer David McKie, defending, said his client was pleading guilty to possessing the poison in June 2009 but not to killing an eagle.

“The dead eagle was not found on Auch Estate but on Forestry Commission ground several miles away on the slopes of Ben Udlaidh,” he added.

After pleading guilty Mr McKellar was sentenced to 300 hours’ community service at the High Court in Glasgow.

Welcoming McKellar’s conviction, Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said possession of carbofuran was a serious office which would not be tolerated.

“We are very pleased with this conviction, which demonstrates that when organisations work together perpetrators will be brought to justice,” he added.