Perthshire gamekeepers are demanding greater protection following a series of attacks on individuals and property, as one woman was charged and two others were being sought by police.
Estate workers say their lives are “being made hell” amid claims they have been spat at and had tools stolen by people walking on their land in recent weeks.
In one incident CCTV cameras at an estate near Crieff detected three women who appeared to be interfering with a trap that had been set for the legal control of predators.
Further investigations by the estate found two traps had been damaged and one stolen.
Police have charged one woman in connection with the incident and have identified two more.
A gamekeeper from the estate said people needed to understand the importance of their role to rural communities.
The estate worker, who asked not to be named, said: “Everyone is having to cope with a changed world and it is sickening when folk can’t just enjoy the countryside and their local walk without resorting to wrecking things.
“It is making peoples’ lives hell and what they don’t realise is that, by targeting these estates, they are hurting their local businesses as well.
“At the moment, there are around a dozen local estates in the area who are bringing shooting visitors to participate in country sports.
“This is having a positive knock-on effect to local businesses and trades in Crieff and Comrie that have been really struggling due to the pandemic.”
The Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group (TCSMG) backed the workers claims, saying there had been “a long list” of incidents in the region.
Alice Bugden, co-ordinator of the group, has written to politicians on their behalf demanding answers.
She said: “During lockdown, we have had people being spat at, people dumping asbestos on estate grounds and gamekeepers’ tools being damaged or even stolen.
“It cannot go on this way and we have contacted decision makers to see what more can be done.”
Conservative MSP Liz Smith said criminal activity on estates cannot be tolerated.
The Mid Scotland and Fife politician said: “I am very supportive of tighter measures to address this criminal activity.
“This is completely unacceptable practice and should not be tolerated, nor should the personal abuse being suffered by those who work on our estates.
“Earlier this month, I met with Inspector Craig Stephen in the Tayside section of Police Scotland to discuss what needs to be done both to identify the culprits and bring them to justice.
“People’s livelihoods are at stake here and that is why urgent action has to be taken.”
Police were asked to comment.