Scotland's wildlife treasures facing extinction for 'sport' of the rich

It is not only golden eagles and other birds that are in danger of destruction in Scotland (your report, 3 September.

Conservationists warn that the mountain hare could become extinct in Scotland in a decade unless action is taken to prevent their mass slaughter by foreign shooting parties.

Mountain hares are protected under the European Habitats Directive, but the shooting of the animals is unlicensed. Ian Clark, director of the Scottish Association for Country Sports, said hares had to be culled to protect game birds, as is the suspected case with rare birds of prey.

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It is time for the tide to turn, and the interests of indigenous wildlife put first - before the preservation of game birds for the so-called "sport" of the rich.

I call upon The Scotsman, the SSPCA, and all committed conservationists and wildlife lovers to stand up for these beautiful creatures now.


Mayfield Road


There is certainly still ideal pinewood habitat for red squirrels in Inverness-shire (Recommends, 5 September). This supports a wealth of other species of conservation concern. Ill-advisedly, however, the Cairngorms National Park Authority's Cairngorms Deposit Local Plan promotes destruction of significant areas of Caledonian pinewood, a European priority habitat unique to Scotland.

As well as proposing a new town in the sensitive Glenmore corridor near Aviemore, the plan allocates 475 "second homes" and vacant properties within the national park, mainly in Inverness-shire. Some of the more than 1,000 new houses envisaged would cause direct loss of native pinewood habitat.

To needlessly concrete over Scotland's finest countryside, as the plan proposes, is a national disgrace.


Convener, Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group

Fiodhag, Nethybridge


I am all for planting trees, and welcome the nature reserve initiative here in South Lanarkshire (your report, 6 September). However, fundamental misunderstandings of Scotland's forest history are implied by the mention of "the sound of wind in the trees of the Caledonian forest" in the same day's editorial.

A "forest" was never mainly composed of trees. It is a term denoting wild, uncultivated land, largely bog and moor. The botanical archaeological record shows that climate change was responsible for the disappearance of scrub birch on the uplands thousands of years ago, not human mismanagement. The returning vegetation of post-ice age northern Britain developed in conjunction with grazing mammals as open parkland, managed by early man for forage to feed animals and firewood. We can rejoice in trees without falsifying history or blaming our forefathers for crimes they did not commit.


Crookedstane Rig

Biggar, Lanarkshire