Alastair Robertson, (Magazine, 12 January), has missed Mark Avery’s point, which is that he wishes to ban driven grouse shooting, and not grouse shooting per se.
Driven grouse shooting is only viable if unnaturally high numbers of grouse can be produced, which is impossible without the widespread and illegal persecution of birds of prey and, in particular, the hen harrier. A growing body of science, including that produced by Scottish National Heritage, establishes a clear link between driven grouse shooting in the south and south-east Scotland and the absence of breeding hen harriers in what would otherwise be prime breeding habitat.
Mr Robertson asks who is to blame for the decline of hen harriers in England, well he should have listened to a recent radio debate in which Adrian Blackmore, the Countryside Alliance’s moorlands director, conceded that some gamekeepers are illegally shooting hen harriers. Many people understand the importance of game shooting to rural economies, but cannot stomach the widespread law-breaking required to sustain it.