Sir, – Nicolle Hamilton described Jim Crumley’s article (January 19) on grouse shooting as unbalanced and distorted.
Strong words but are they justified?
In his article, Jim made great play of the plight of hen harriers, implicating those who manage grouse moors.
However, Jim knows it is not that simple. Hewill have read the recent article in Scottish Birds by Bob McMillan.
Following a 12-year-long study on the Isle of Skye, Bob reported that of 88 nesting attempts by hen harriers, 47 failed, with predators the most likely cause.
Monitoring nests with cameras revealed that red foxes were responsible for two thirds of the failures, killing chicks and fledged and adult birds.
He will also have read the report in 2013 by David Baines and Michael Richardson on the first 10 years ofthe experiment onLangholm Moor.
This showed that a grouse moor provides an excellent habitat for hen harriers as the game keepers controlledpredators such as red foxes and ensured there was abundant prey for the harriers.
Following the protection of hen harriersin 1992, their numbers on Langholm Moor greatly increased.
But by 2002 their numbers had againcollapsed following the removal of the keepers in 1999.
This collapse was attributed to increased predation, particularly by red foxes and lack of prey resulting from the removal of the keepers.
The keepers were removed because the increased numbers of harriers had limited the numbers of grouse for shooting.
This is a complex, catch 22 situation. Jim knows all this but chooses to vilify many of those who live and work in the countryside.
But dealing with the complex issues typical of the real world is not Jim’s remit. Keep it simple Jim; people are theproblem.
David Trudgill. The Steading, Blairgowrie.
Predationthreat to birds
Sir, – I write in response to JimCrumlney’s column, Nature pays dearly for grouse shooters.
Despite the trials of our lives including pressures on our sleeping patterns, few if any,people worry about being killed by another predatory species.
However, for practically every other species, predation is a real and increasing threat.
Growing evidence suggests that breeding populations of some ground-nesting birds, such as wading birds and gamebirds, are more likely to be limited by predation than other groups,perhaps because their nests or young are mostvulnerable to predation.
This comes at a time when, with the exception of the kestrel, every other species of raptor populations has grown, in many cases exponentially, and that some form of control is required to limitfurther impact on rare and vulnerable species.
The UK Government has recognised theproblem is not as one sided as bird charities would suggest and it has implemented a henharrier recovery plan in England.
I could invite Mr Crumley to accompany me to visit a few of the areas he highlighted as being a problem to see the conservation effort and the tangible biodiversity from those he would castigate. But when did the truth ever get in the way of a good story?
Jamie Stewart. Scottish Countryside Alliance, Director for Scotland. 16 Young Street, Edinburgh.
Wildlife cleared from estates
Sir, – George Murdoch (January 26) makes some interesting points about raptor crime, estates and conservation bodies.
It would be a big step forward if all estates were transparent in a genuine way rather than the glossed-over attempt to portray themselves as the saviours of these Scottish moorlands. Some are keen topromote the view that all manner of wildlife is flourishing under their guardianship.
Sadly, some estates have cleared their land of all Scottish red deer and Scottish mountain hares purely because they carry ticks, which if picked up by grouse can affect their well-being.
This hardly helps the biodiversity of these places and is an affront to our natural heritage.
Sadder still is the fact that hen harriers have not nested in Angus for 10 years.
Robert Anderson. Kirkton, Arbroath.
Ladies made homeless
Sir, – Twenty years ago a group of ladies formed a craft group at the Damacre Centre in Brechin.
Since then we have met every Fridaymorning to enjoy two hours of companionship and crafting.
Now Angus Council has told us we can no longer use the centre but have to move to the new high school.
However, until the old school is pulled down in 2017, there will be no parking or a bus service. Many of us are in our 80s so how are we expected to get there?
The Damacre Centre is only two minutes’ walk from a good bus service.
We have offered to pay more to stay at thecentre, at least until 2017, but have been turned down.
So thanks to thecouncil and the SNP’s mania for centralisation, 24 elderly ladies are deprived of their Friday morning get-togethers and another building is added to the long list of buildings which blight Brechin.
Mrs M. Armstrong. 83 High Street, Edzell.
Litter blight in Kinross
Sir, – As I was working in Kinross on January 21, I decided to visit the local Sainsbury’s supermaket for a bit of lunch.
On travelling back from the store, I was shocked by the amount of litter on the pavement at Springfield Road.
Further up Springfield Road I witnessed a group of school pupils who had been at the supermarket, leaving plastic foodcontainers, cans, leftover bread and so on, littering the pavement. It waslittle wonder the pupils were being followed by a flock of seagulls.
This is the worst case of littering I have ever witnessed. Do these pupils not have anyconcern about the litter they leave behind and the cost to council forclearing up this mess?
Ian Robertson. Hillview, Station Road, Crook of Devon.
EU has Britain in tax trap
Sir, – The disgraceful deal between Google and HM Revenue andCustoms is a simplecase of soft-targettaxation.
Individuals and small businesses are pursued like war criminals, while for many multinationals, paying tax in Britain is an optional extra.
It is not just in taxation that the authoritiesfollow this unfair approach of picking on the weak and ignoring the powerful.
The police have long practised soft-target policing.
It is easy to pursue motorists for speeding and fools on socialmedia; policing thehardened criminals in the country is quite another matter.
For policing, what is chiefly needed is a change of heart, but for taxation that will not be enough.
Multinationals know that there is nothing that we can do to make them pay in Britain on their British profits so long as we are in the European Union.
To its credit, the coffee chain Starbucks haschosen in the last couple of years to start to pay its fair share. The other multinationals just laugh at us.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation should have included a change to EU rules on free movement of capital to ensure that profits are taxed where they are earned.
Of course, he didnot because therenegotiation is simply cosmetic.
A future in whichmultinationals pay their fair share of tax is yet another reason for usto vote to leave theEuropean Union.
Otto Inglis. Ansonhill, Crossgates.
SNP champions Tory austerity
Sir, – I thank Councillor Kevin Cordell forhis generous comments (January 27) about my role as councillor for the West End on Dundee City Council.
However, in relation to the impending huge budget cuts to Scottish local government,Councillor Cordellconfuses facts asopinion.
I made no comment on whether or notthe block grant settlement from Westminster is generous or not this year but it is a fact that it has been increased by £0.5 billion a 1.7% increase.
The SNP Scottish Government, despite this 1.7% increase from Westminster, has decided to slash local government budgets across Scotland by 3.5%, a massive cut in local services of £350m, across Scottish localgovernment.
If anyone is the bag carrier for Tory austerity, Councillor Cordell has only to look to his own SNP Government.
Cllr Fraser Macpherson. Councillor for the West End, Dundee City Council.