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Shooting moors preserve birds; Voice of the North.

I BELIEVE that in quoting Simon Barnes, a columnist in The Times, Richard Cowen (Voice of the North, March 9) has regurgitated Royal Society for the Protection of Birds spin.

The recent "hen harrier survey" actually showed an increase in this species in England, the home of the United Kingdom's most productive grouse moors. By contrast, numbers in the Isle of Man, where there is no driven grouse shooting, have fallen sharply.

This echoes earlier declines in Orkney where, again, there is no driven grouse shooting (there, the cause was eventually traced to a crash in vole numbers).

There has been no recorded incident of hen harrier persecution in England for at least three years, yet even the RSPB's own hen harrier reserve at Geltsdale has not been able to produce any young birds in that time.

Numbers of hen harriers south of the border are indeed low, but then the species only began to re-colonise English moors in the 1970s.

While everybody rightly condemns any illegal act, we need to keep a sense of perspective. On the whole, grouse moors managed for shooting preserve a wide variety of birds - including curlew, lapwing and golden plover - that are in steep decline elsewhere.

A MITCHELL, National Gamekeepers Organisation, PO Box 246, Darlington, County Durham DL1 9FZ
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 12, 2011
Words:215
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