RSPB not at war with wildfowlers

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YOUR article concerning RSPB Scotland and wildfowling at the Crook of Baldoon (News, 22 January) supposed a conflict where there is none.

RSPB Scotland recognises wildfowling as a legitimate countryside activity, and we are not in the business of stopping it at Wigtown Bay, as could be inferred from the article.

For many years we have worked with local wildfowling clubs and the local council to set up what is now the largest local nature reserve in the UK at Wigtown Bay. Since acquiring the Crook of Baldoon in 2010, we have agreed to include it in the Local Nature Reserve and we completely reject the premise that we have come into the area “with jackboots on”. We are still in the very early stages of settling in at the Crook of Baldoon and we have participated in a dialogue led by the council.

Given the large size of Wigtown Bay, our intention from the outset has been to set up an area of saltmarsh and wetland which would be managed as a relatively undisturbed nature reserve where wildfowl thrives and visitors will come and enjoy the wildlife spectacle and tranquillity. We will shortly produce a management plan, and we are engaging with local interests to assist this. We have already improved public access to the site, which was previously more restricted and employed a warden and seasonal interpretation officer. Over time, we expect Crook of Baldoon to contribute greatly as a year-round attraction to the local Wigtown economy, along with other established locations in Dumfries and Galloway.

The purchase of Crook of Baldoon received welcome financial support from SNH. SNH has also helped fund the purchase of land on the edge of the bay by local wildfowlers, and we supported this. Wigtown Bay is an extensive estuarine site, most of which is subject to wildfowling activity. There is room for all activities to co-exist with some proper planning. Our management will bring more wildfowl to Wigtown Bay, as we create ideal habitats, and this will benefit wildfowlers, as well as birdwatchers, in the future.

The issue has been put before the Area Committee of Dumfries and Galloway Council and they have proposed that in addition to the already extensive areas managed for wildfowling, that wildfowling would also be retained on 25% of the tidal foreshore at Crook of Baldoon. We have accepted the council’s position and will work with all local interests to deliver our joint objectives.

Stuart Housden, director, RSPB Scotland