A 999 call reporting what were feared to be gunshots in the middle of the night was dismissed by police as routine vermin control.
The emergency call was made by a frightened holidaymaker who heard a series of bangs and a car being driven at speed in the early hours of the morning.
However, police told her it was likely to be someone shooting wild animals and did not attend the scene near St Andrews.
Police Scotland, which later drafted in the bomb squad to deal with an incident suspected to be linked, said there was no suggestion made that anyone was at risk.
The time of the ‘shots’ coincided with vandalism at nearby Craigtoun Country Park, thought to have been carried out with an agricultural firework of the type used by farmers to scare birds.
The lack of response was criticised by a leading volunteer at the busy park, part of which had to be sealed off as the Explosive Ordnance Disposal dealt with potentially explosive material left behind after a toilet was blown up last Tuesday morning.
Nicola Lamont, of Portree, was staying with family at nearby Craigtoun Meadows Holiday Park when she was awoken by the bangs at around 12.15 am.
After hearing of the destruction at the park, she posted on Facebook: “They happened a few more times before we called 999 as it was extremely scary and strange having this go off at such a strange hour.
“We were told the following day by the police it would have been shooting of wild animals, but I think it’s too much of a coincidence.”
The park has suffered a spate of vandalism recently but last week’s incident was described as on “another level” and a warning was issued by police that someone could have been hurt.
Kyffin Roberts, chairman of Friends of Craigtoun Park, said he was fairly certain what Nicola heard was the vandalism taking place.
He said: “We had such a large response on the Tuesday morning with the bomb squad and all the cars, yet the night before there was a 999 call and as far as I can see there was nothing at all.
“I’m reluctant to criticise the police too much, I know they do a difficult job, but they seem to have missed a trick on this one.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “A call was made to Police Scotland reporting loud bangs around Craigtoun Park, St Andrews, shortly after midnight on Tuesday August 1.
“There was no suggestion made at that time that any property was being damaged or that the public were at risk.
“After assessment by officers, it was considered to be most likely noises coming from planned vermin control that is a regular occurrence on surrounding land.
“Police Scotland prioritise calls based on competing demands and our response in these circumstances was based on what we knew and reasonably assumed was happening at the time of the report.”