Birds of prey

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Doug McAdam of Scottish Land and Estates (Letters, 16 January) implies that the RSPB is not committed to resolving the conflict grouse moor managers perceive with birds of prey, and is not supportive of the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project. This is disingenuous.

Mr McAdam knows that RSPB Scotland was a founding partner in the Langholm project, contributes funding and remains a partner. We are encouraged that the project identified diversionary feeding as a viable tool allowing co-existence of grouse shooting and raptors.

We are disappointed by the lack of uptake of this by grouse moor managers. Why reject a tried and tested method that reduces (to zero at Langholm) harrier predation of grouse chicks?

Harriers at Langholm remain below the optimum and below the partners’ agreed target.

Continuing intolerance of this species outwith Langholm may well explain this sad failure.

The RSPB withdrew from one English initiative. Over the seven years of our engagement, the English hen harrier population declined to a single breeding pair. In such circumstances it seems pointless to discuss harrier management with none left to manage!

Nevertheless, we remain in dialogue with government and moor managers south of the Border and will direct our energies to any initiatives we believe can work.

The near-complete annihilation of breeding hen harriers in England shows signs of being repeated in large parts of Scotland.

Honest and meaningful dialogue is essential to stop this. Without it, Logan Steel’s hypothesis (Letters, 14 January) that raptors cannot live with intensive driven grouse shooting, may well be correct.

Stuart Housden

RSPB Scotland

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