SO Mark Smith accuses those of us who shoot not only of ignorance but also of wilfully breaking the restrictions of the quarry list (“Revealed: True extent of the slaughter of birds in Scotland” The Herald November 22).

I can only suggest that he has missed his vocation as he should obviously be a writer of fantasy fiction.

Firstly, obtaining a shotgun licence is a strictly controlled and arduous process, which checks up on the suitability of the applicant to be granted a license, including requiring one’s GP to write confirming one’s physical and mental suitability.

The security of any gun owned, and where the applicant intends to shoot, is also investigated.

Even when granted, the police can remove one’s licence if it is felt the holder has become unacceptable and any guns would be confiscated.

No-one I have ever met has ever had the motto “If it flies, it dies”, as this would put their hobby at risk and I have met few more law-abiding citizens than shotgun licence-holders.

Mr Smith then descends into pure farce with his description of snipe-shooting. His ignorance, like that of many who attack field-sports, is truly stunning.

The idea that someone could shoot 100 one day and then another 100 the next day can only be a joke for if it isn’t it convicts Mr Smith of deliberate deception.

Snipe are incredibly difficult birds to shoot; putting one or two in the bag is considered a very fortunate day.

This does not endanger the species, but if they were not a quarry species, would the marshy bogland they inhabit not soon be drained and used

for agriculture, which certainly would endanger the species?

Shooters spend many hours improving habitat so that quarry species and many other species thrive. Research has proven this time and time again.

Mr Smith may not be able to differentiate between species but every shooter can. It is not just the appearance which one identifies but also the call and the sound its wings make as it flies.

It does not matter how good or bad the light is – any shooter will ensure he has correctly made an identification before he releases the safety catch.

David Stubley, Prestwick.




THE only thing revealed by Mark Smith in his latest article is a staggering lack of knowledge about the Scottish countryside.

He provides no evidence to substantiate his claims that non-quarry species are routinely shot illegally, nor that shooting is responsible for declining trends in quarry species.

Moreover, his article ignores the fact that game-bird management is directly responsible for creating strongholds for the red-listed species he references. Species such as the black grouse and capercaillie are only found in certain areas as a result of the management that comes from shooting. In Scotland, this management is worth £35 million every year.

While the article provides a unique insight into Mark Smith’s eclectic imagination, its accuracy and validity leave much to be desired. That said, BASC is happy to offer Mark the opportunity to join us for an outing to see for himself the strong, enduring relationship between shooting and conservation.

Ross Ewing MA MCIPR, Public Affairs Manager (Scotland) , The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Dunkeld.



DOUGLAS Jardine explains why his family needs to own more than one car (“In defence of two cars, November 22).

It made me think back to the good old days when hardly anyone owned a car where I grew up, eight miles from Liverpool. We walked a mile to catch the tram or bus or, if we wanted to use the train for longer journeys, then we walked two miles to the station.

Otherwise, the town was full of people cycling or walking to get hither and yon.

The salutary thing was that people usually worked within walking/cycling distance of their homes, shopped at the small local shops (no supermarkets then) and hardly ventured far from their home town.

It was usually the doctors who owned cars. Even the policeman cycled everywhere.

As for school, mine was about five miles away, so if you missed the trolley-bus, or it did not arrive due to bad weather, then we walked, usually along the bus route, collecting other pupils as we went along. Then back the same way in the afternoon. Snowballing often featured in the winter walks.

I think that we were rather fitter in those “good old days” even though life was lived at a slower pace. We were certainly much thinner; but that was then and this is now. Maybe we have to get used to a change back to a slower life-style again?

There would probably be much grumbling but I feel that the human race is busy backing itself up an alley with a dead end.

Thelma Edwards, Hume, Kelso.



NEWLY-published figures show that Scotland is “woefully behind” on charging points for electric cars.

The data shows that there are only eight charging points for every 100 electric cars. Councils have been unfairly criticised for not providing more.

Transport Scotland has already given £50 million of taxpayers’ money to fund 2,000 publicly available charging points.

The majority of councils charging points provide free electricity and free parking, so this must stop.

Why should council-tax payers and taxpayers subsidise the rich EV owner?

EV owners should pay towards their charging points by imposing a 10 per cent surcharge on the purchase price of their EV.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.