Sir, – Your excellent and forthright editorial in The Scottish Farmer of November 3, highlighted once again the unsustainable situation in this country where our songbirds and waders continue to decline – even though everybody is aware of the situation, but little or nothing is being done about it.

Your lead story also highlighted the situation in the north where sea eagles are now taking significant quantities of ewes as well as lambs and, being apex predators without any enemies themselves, are breeding and expanding in a totally unrestricted way.

Meanwhile, those who should be advocating control methods continue to talk about carrying out observations and trials. By the time all these 'trials' have been completed, we could well have reached the apocalyptic situation you have described where all the predators start eating each other as they will have finished off everything else.

This is already being played out in the Northern Isles, with great skuas predating heavily on red-listed arctic skua populations and with goshawks wiping out kestrel and sparrowhawk populations in Kielder Forest and elsewhere.

Unlike the stoat initiative in Orkney, where a target has been set of wiping out the stoat population altogether before they can decimate ground-nesting seabirds and waders, on the mainland a more achievable approach would be to try and redress the balance between predator and prey.

With the continuing decline of so many of our iconic songbirds and waders action is urgently required before some species become extinct. This can only happen if there is a real will on the part of conservation bodies and government to actually do something rather than just talk about it.

By 'doing', this would mean lifting – in some cases – the protected status of certain animals and birds like badgers, buzzards and sparrowhawks whose numbers simply do not justify protected status any longer.

It is ironic that there is now an acknowledgement that predators do have a significantly adverse effect on ground-nesting birds including waders and especially curlews which have been heading for some time towards the brink of extinction. But when it comes to songbirds, which are for the most part also in universal decline, no such acknowledgement is forthcoming and therefore no support for any action to remedy this bleak situation.

Although many songbirds (the skylark being an exception) nest off the ground, this hardly poses a challenge to cats, crows, foxes, jays, magpies and sparrowhawks, all of which predate on songbirds or their eggs.

One has to ask whether this imbalance could be anything to do with the fact that ground-nesting birds are generally to be found well away from urban areas, while songbirds are to be found in both rural and urban areas, which means that the large urban population of this country and their wealth could be at the root of any decisions not to endorse action which could be controversial.

Colin Strang Steel

Trustee of SongBird Survival,