Letter: Magpies found not guilty

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Sir: There seems to be only one way of reducing magpie numbers without harming other birds - the Larsen trap, invented in Denmark and more recently promoted by the Game Conservancy Trust at Fordingbridge - which will supply plans and essential components. My Larsen trap caught 78 magpies in two seasons (March to July). I dispatched them humanely with a high-powered air rifle.

Each trap requires a decoy bird, a live magpie, readily available at the beginning of the season from nearby farmers, and replaced by trapped birds to keep the captivity short. It needs to be fed and watered, of course.

The reduction in magpie numbers in my garden has been matched by the increase in the songbird population. I now shoot the rare visiting magpie, with a 12-bore high-energy cartridge and No 4 shot, from cover - they are wary birds. I am reluctant to kill them, but more reluctant to see them tearing songbird parents to pieces.


Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire