Sir, – I must take issue with the claims of Tim Baynes of the Scottish Moorland Group when he states (August 2) that hares are only culled when numbers are high.
Dr Adam Watson reported in his 2013 book, Mammals in the North-east Highlands, that he had found massive declines in their numbers over the past 10 to 20 years.
He went on to claim that gamekeepers on several estates had told him they were instructed to reduce hare numbers and try to eradicate them. Roy Dennis of the Highland Foundation for Wildlife has also commented that “the numbers (of mountain hares) are drastically down in the last 20 years and the decline is very noticeable on intensely-managed grouse moors”.
Though a voluntary agreement for a cessation of large culls was agreed in 2014, photographs featuring a truck load of dead mountain hares taken in the north-east Highlands appeared in various media outlets shortly afterwards.
The Scottish Moorland Group did not deny that a large cull had taken place.
Legislation should be introduced to temporarily, at least, stop these culls until more is known about their effect on populations.
Some now claim that mountain hares are locally extinct in some areas.
Mr Baynes goes on to claim the culls are partly initiated “for limiting the spread of tick-borne diseases such as Louping ill and Lyme diseases.”
As some of the estates Mr Baynes represents also introduce a good portion of the 40 million pheasants released annually in the UK, would he also commit to regulating, limiting and reducing those numbers?
I ask this because pheasants are recognised as a very effective vector in regards to Lyme disease and were credited in the late 1990s with maintenance and spread of the disease in England and Wales.
4 Auchcairnie Cottages,
Folly of dash for electric cars
Sir, – Our politicians and so-called forward planners never seem to grasp the fact that that which appears feasible in theory does not always translate well into practice.
The latest concept, that of scrapping both diesel and petrol vehicles in favour of electric vehicles by 2040, is a prime example, and has huge implications environmentally and financially.
Currently there are some 2.5 million vehicles in Scotland, thus the mere scrappage of these will in itself impinge enormously on the environment.
More importantly, the demand for electricity will outstrip our current provision which can never be met by renewables.
Indeed, there have already been warnings that come a very harsh winter, power cuts are a real possibility.
This situation can only be addressed by expanding conventional power supplies, which will fly in the face of what is intended to be achieved.
Add this to the mass of batteries which, at the end of their short lives, will require to be decommissioned and recycled with all the inherent hazards.
Surely the correct approach is to make more efficient engines alongside electric vehicles.
In the end we may reflect upon the fact that in attempting to tackle one issue we may be creating an even greater problem.
David L Thomson.
24 Laurence Park,
SNP’s record put into context
Sir, – Martin Redfern’s condemnation of the SNP’s track record on education (July 27) needs to be put into context.
The Curriculum for Excellence, implemented in 2010/11, stems from a 2002 consultation which attempted to remedy dissatisfaction with the standard of education in Scotland.
As a long-serving teacher on one of the General Election debates pointed out, these issues have been ever present during his career.
From the failed 11-plus system during my own school days to the comprehensive system which followed it, generations of Scottish school children and their teachers have been at the mercy of every government whim.
That the SNP is attempting to remedy this with a policy they inherited from its unionist predecessors is not unique.
However, recent reports have been encouraging. The OECD considers Scotland to be one of the most highly educated countries not only in Europe, but the world.
This is in sharp contrast to 16 to 19-year-olds in England coming bottom and second bottom in literacy and numeracy respectively.
In this context, Mr Redfern’s scurrilous claim of neglect is seen for what it truly is, a desperate effort to undermine a Scottish Government doing its very best to improve a situation not of its own making.
As is his attempt to blame the SNP for Tory- implemented austerity cuts, which he rightly insists are important factors in this issue, although he is not the first to spin this dishonest line.
335 King Street,
Misery at mercy of vicious gulls
Sir, – If you’ve ever had the misfortune to have gulls lodge on your roof, lay three eggs, hatch these eggs and endured the noise and attacks from them, you would do anything to have them eradicated.
Visitors to your door are attacked.
There’s no chance to sit in your garden or to tend it.
There’s no washing to be hung out. It would be messed on if you managed to hang it up.
The people who feed them are ignorant, selfish beings.
The following spring, five gulls want to nest and the three grown young have their mates.
I support a cull. It is legal but you are not allowed to kill chicks.
35 Luke Place,
Poor standards fuel bird problem
Sir, – If slovenly, irresponsible people did not drop food on the ground or sloppily dispose of food bags, there would be nothing for gulls to forage.
If we removed such rotten human behaviour, the gull problem would be resolved harmlessly and painlessly.
The gulls would then return to the sea, which, I am afraid, humans are poisoning with their pollution.
Halt arms sales to conflict zones
Sir, – As I read reports of the never-ending flow of illegal immigrants into Europe, one wonders why the United Nations cannot get a grip on the problem.
The best way to stop internal conflicts in the various countries that fuel asylum seekers, is to crack down on arms sales from the developed economies, which would effectively disarm governments and extremists and force the settlement of dispute by democratic means as opposed to the rule of the gun.