Several sightings have been made in the eastern Cairngorms of the lesser spotted conservationist, a species which is not indigenous to the area and is regarded by many as a threat to local fauna.
It is very difficult to track down and inhabits moral high ground that is largely inaccessible to an important species, the common or garden walker. The effects of its presence are far-reaching.
Typically, many hundreds of yards of posts and wire netting will appear almost overnight, rendering romantic wild areas suddenly inaccessible. Sometimes patches of heather will be burnt, and notices will appear saying that this is a good thing, because it will grow again.
The lesser spotted conservationist is hard to pin down, being perfectly camouflaged, and will survive almost anything you can throw at it.
Prof V A R Scheinlich, the noted expert, is concerned that the species is spreading uncontrollably from greener areas to the south and will cause irreversible changes to previously untouched glens and mountain wilderness.
“We must all be on our guard,” he said. “It represents a very subtle menace to the common or garden walker – on a spiritual level in particular. The ubiquitous wire may seem to have little practical effect, but it deters the walker, sometimes on a subliminal level, from enjoying the area and may lead in time to the disappearance of walkers completely, rather in the way the grey squirrels have evicted the attractive red from many areas further south.
“Once established, the conservationist can take over an area, and things will never be the same. Which is kind of ironic, if you think about it.”