THE article by Mark Smith on grey squirrels ("To live or die because of your fur colour is weird", The Herald, February 12) seemed to be based on personal belief rather than fact. It is accepted by all the leading forestry organisations that the importation of the grey is responsible for massive damage to woodland. They strip bark, killing limbs of trees, altering what landowners will risk planting.

The squirrel pox the greys carry but are immune to themselves results in a 15-day period in which the reds suffer and die.

The two species simply cannot live together.

Add to the above that the grey is bigger, therefore has a larger food requirement, and can eat unripe food whereas the red cannot, it is no wonder the red has been almost wiped out.

Massive efforts are under way in Northumbria and Cumbria to save the reds A project on Angelsey has reclaimed the land from greys and is now red.

It is a scandal that local councils are scared of a public that has forgotten the existence of the red, and now sees greys as cute as it is all they are aware of, so councils take no action despite the fact that reds are supposed to be protected and greys are officially a pest.

It is hard enough fighting for the survival of red squirrels without articles like this.

Brian Moughtin, Huddersfield.

End the TV licence

IT is almost 50 years since the radio licence was scrapped as uneconomical and unenforceable. The scrapping of the TV licence part-funding the BBC is long overdue.

If the licence fee was unenforceable in the era of the largely-fictitious detector vans, the millions today declaring they only watch "catch-up" TV rather than "live" (a loophole deliberately put into the law to allow the wily cosmopolitan classes to avoid payment whilst the mug proles paid up) renders the current system a farce.

Toothless TV licensing enforcement officers – with no legal right to enter property to prove an unlicensed TV exists – are employed at great expense to take more than 10,000 people annually to court – a quarter of all magistrate's cases in the UK – which they've no hope of winning unless the defendant (usually from a vulnerable group such as the elderly or mentally ill) is intimidated enough to plead guilty.

If general taxation is good enough for funding state radio, it's good enough for a state TV earning millions selling high quality shows across the globe.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone.

Time to close down

WITH the coronavirus not going away any day soon why are our cinemas, theatres and stadiums still being allowed to open? Surely a few minor inconveniences now might save an awful lot of grief later? Could it just be our leaders are too wrapped up in their own fragile political health?

John Dunlop, Ayr.

A sad loss

I NOTE the obituary for Richard Mowbray (The Herald, February 10), with whom many of us crossed verbal swords both in writing and in person.

Please let this be a record of his contributions to these very Letters Pages which he graced so frequently. We can ill afford to lose the input of such great contrarians.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow G13.

Gold standard

TODAY'S Sport section carries the headline" All that glitters is GOLD for Aberdeen" (The Herald, February 12). In Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, the Prince of Morocco learns to his cost that all that glisters is not gold.

Study of Shakespeare not being my favourite subject, my teachers must have got something right.

David Miller, Milngavie.