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While the RSPB is right to call for landowners to be jailed for six months if birds are illegally killed on their land, it should note that the law treats poisoning of salmon in Scotland as a much more serious offence than that of birds of prey.

Under 1951 salmon fisheries legislation the penalty for poisoning salmon was a fine of up to £500 and imprisonment for up to two years. This was subsequently increased in 1976 to an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison.

To enforce the protection of salmon fisheries, water bailiffs can enter land, premises and vehicles, by force if necessary. Bailiffs can also open any package in the post which is suspected of containing salmon.

Bailiffs also have the power to search and arrest any person suspected of offences against salmon.

The RSPB should demand that the Scottish Government gives its inspectors similar powers to those enjoyed by water bailiffs, in order that poisoned birds of prey are given the same legal protection as that afforded to salmon.

There is no doubt that such powers would put an end to poisoning of birds as the RSPB would be hard pressed to recall when the last case of salmon poisoning happened, whereas bird poisoning is now part and parcel of country life.

Jim Stewart

Oxgangs Avenue