Hawk down

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I sympathise with Alastair Harper’s concerns about the impact of crows on the wading birds he so clearly appreciates (Letters, 4 March).

Crows undoubtedly take a toll on wader chicks each spring, 
although changes to farming are also a likely contributor to the recent decline in lapwing, 
curlew and plover numbers.

However, he ought to ask himself just why corvids are so common in Scotland, crow densities being very much lower elsewhere in northern Europe.

The relative lack of species such as goshawk, sparrowhawk, peregrine and harrier, all major predators of crows, is a telling factor.

Why bother using Larsen traps to catch crows when nature takes care of the problem?

Of course the Larsen traps are not there to aid Mr Harper’s wader populations; they are there to keep down the “vermin” that impact on the numbers of game species so beloved of another sector of the rural community.

The illegal persecution of raptors removes corvids’ natural predators. It would be laughable if it were not so tragic that the poison bait that kills the raptors is often put down to kill the very crows that would have been predated by the poisoned birds, if they were only left in peace.

Ray Murray