THE hypocrisy in Mark Smith's article was truly stunning ("Scotland needs to ditch its hypocritical attitude to birds", The Herald, May 10). The fact that he has never touched a bird before now says volumes about him rather than acting as some criticism of those of us who have raised, rescued and cared for birds, both domestic and wild, for most of our lives. The fact that he mixes up racing, wood and feral pigeons clearly shows his Enid Blyton attitude to birds.

Mr Smith ignores the fact that farming is the process of rearing, husbanding and culling the sustainable surplus to sell as foodstuff. This is exactly what the game-shooting fraternity does but Mr Smith conveniently ignores that the pre-prepared, plastic-wrapped chicken in the supermarket was also a bird with feathers and delicate bones. Wood pigeons are a menace as they can decimate newly-planted crops and this reduces food production and increases food prices and hence it is essential to cull them at this time. Feral pigeon are called flying rats for the simple reason that they are invariably carriers of disease. Recent deaths at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital surely must convince even one who is determined to ignore the facts like Mr Smith.

The hypocrisy does not stop there. Chris Packham did indeed cause the withdrawal of general licences to shoot vermin species in England at a time when it would have maximum impact on farmers trying to protect their young crops. This is crass hypocrisy as Mr Packham is vice-president of the RSPB. This organisation is on record of having shot almost 800 crows alone in the last few years. Why? To protect other species of birds, of course.

Our environment has been managed for 5,000 years and shooting and vermin control have had the benefit that species which would no longer survive in our islands are still thriving. The conservation work of gamekeepers and land managers is widely recognised as vital for many species. Perhaps Mr Smith would learn and understand a lot more if he spent a day out on the hill with one of these incredibly dedicated countrymen.

David Stubley,


WHILE feathered visitors continue to avoid our four tempting bird feeders our local population of rap-tors has increased. Crows, magpies and hawks are now prevalent and, with the nesting season at its height, the number of songbirds is dwindling. I have just watched two crows raiding a pigeon’s nest. While flocks of crows parade and circle round our house small birds cannot nest here in safety and though other districts claim plenteous sightings, their songbirds could also be endangered. While the once familiar peewits, curlews and waders may be threatened with extinction, new legislation is seeking even more protection for predators.

Let us beware of well-meaning nature lovers who want to take over our countryside. If birds of prey are not determinedly controlled, the breeding of our garden birds will fail and those friendly creatures with their joyful songs could be lost to us all forever.

Sue Stephen, Balfron.

YET another hen harrier bites the dust on a Scottish shooting estate (“Hen harrier Skylar goes missing in “black hole” for protected species”, The Herald, May 8). How long will the Scottish Government re-quire before it takes action? When the knock-on effects of climate change will surely render extinct many species, the need and speed for action on protection is essential. Satellite tags on birds are extremely accurate in revealing geolocations at home or abroad.

Last week shooting enthusiast Rory Kennedy stated a litany of misinformation regarding crows, in a diatribe aimed at Chris Packham ("Packham campaign gestures are for the birds”, Agenda, The Herald, May 6). Erroneous “facts” such as crows increasing by 79 per cent in 25 years have no basis. Indeed their numbers are in decline, especially birds like jackdaw, rook, carrion and hooded crows, caused by climate change such as the “Beast from the East” and earlier harsh winters, as well as relentless persecution “management” by blood-sport enthusiasts such as Mr Kennedy. Their effects on songbirds have also been proven erroneous in studies from UK and in Germany. Some years ago 78 per cent of people in a general poll wished “game shooting” to be banned completely.

This should be acted upon and a new licensing of shooting estates introduced post-haste.

Bernard Zonfrillo,

Glasgow G21.