An award-winning bird hide on the shores at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve has been destroyed in what police are treating as a deliberate fire.
Between 7pm and 8pm on Thursday, February 18, NatureScot’s Mill Hide was completely gutted in a blaze.
Police are investigating the incident as a deliberate act and have appealed to the public for information to identify those responsible.
NatureScot’s reserve manager Neil Mitchell said: “When I went out to the site this morning I was shocked and saddened to see what has happened to the hide. It’s been completely destroyed and what’s worse is we believe the fire was started deliberately.
“The hide is hugely popular and over the years has brought so many people joy, allowing them to experience and connect with nature at the reserve. It was a beautiful building that has won several awards, and many visitors will have snapped views from it. Sadly we’ve now had to fence off the site for public safety.
“While it’s gutting to see it destroyed, the response from the community and the general public has been amazing. Given this bird watching site’s popularity and fantastic lochside location, we are determined to replace the hide as soon as possible.
“We would urge anyone with information about the fire to contact Police Scotland.”
The hide was built in 2011 and sits on the loch shore near Kinross behind the Todd and Duncan factory.
It had won awards for its architectural design and was popular with locals and visitors offering views of the loch and the large number of birds that would congregate on the water.
Chief Inspector Graham Binnie of Police Scotland said: “Starting fires deliberately is reckless, dangerous and risks lives. In this case, the bird hide has been completely, and unnecessarily, destroyed.
“We are investigating this as a deliberate act and would ask anyone who saw any suspicious behaviour in the area on Thursday evening, or has information to identify those responsible, to report this to us as soon as possible.
“Those with information should contact Police Scotland on 101 and quote incident number 0573 of February 19.”
Loch Leven is Scotland’s most visited National Nature Reserve, with upward of 250,000 people a year visiting the site.
The bird hide was on one of the most visited parts of the site.