Right of Reply: Graham Wynne

The chief executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds responds to an article stating that, following strict protection of hen harriers, grouse moor owners were cancelling shooting owing to a shortage of birds
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The Independent Culture
CONTRARY TO what Duff Hart-Davis writes in The Independent (Country Matters, 14 August) the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has always accepted the results of the Joint Raptor Study.

Understandably, great prominence has been given to one of its main findings - that at Langham Moor high numbers of breeding hen harriers have, at least for now, made grouse shooting uneconomic.

Unfortunately, other findings are frequently forgotten - such as that raptor predation did not cause the long-term decline of the Langham grouse population and, importantly, that on another moor included in the study driven grouse shooting was unaffected by the presence of breeding hen harriers.

We believe that a long-term solution to the "Langham problem" lies in the proper management of the heather on which the red grouse and much other wildlife depend.

Meanwhile, we believe that substitute feeding of hen harriers can play an important role in reducing their predation on the grouse stock.

Dr Dick Potts, of the Game Conservancy Trust, should not pretend that we have not made our views on quotas and translocation (as moving hen harriers from one place to another is called) fully known. What about the formal comments of the Society that were made to the Government's Moorland and Raptor Working Groups?

It is fundamentally wrong to set an arbitrary ceiling on the population of a rare and heavily persecuted bird so that grouse can be shot. Equally, the claimed needs of the grouse moor owners will not be met by translocation.

The Game Conservancy Trust's own report concludes that translocation "would not provide an effective method of controlling harrier densities on grouse moors".