Sir, The viability of the Golden Eagle in the Scottish Highlands was seriously threatened in the nineteen sixties due to indirect human influence.

Their habit of feeding on 'black loss' sheep carcases, coupled with the chemical Dieldrin in sheep dip, rendered many females infertile, and the situation did not begin to redress itself until the chemical's use was banned and natural wastage replaced the infertile birds with younger, unaffected ones.

Now it would seem that man's influence may once again threaten our native eagle population .

I raised the question of whether Sea Eagles were preying on our native Golden Eagles two years ago, when a Golden Eagle was found dead on Rum. Despite an admission that it had been killed by a larger predator, SNH dismissed the incident as a territorial battle between two Golden Eagles.

Now, confronted by a stonewall eyewitness account, they admit that 'the two species do interact, and are capable of killing each other; this is natural behaviour'.

It is only natural in that two apex species, competing for the same food sources and territories, will inevitably clash. The fact that the Golden Eagle, for the best part of two centuries, had no direct competitor in the food chain, makes it distinctly unnatural!

And, as the Sea Eagle population increases, and their range ever expands, these clashes will become more common, as will the instances of predation on hill sheep. And no amount of mitigating measures will prevent this, with the short term housing of ewes and lambs, or diversionary feeding being no more than sticking plaster tactics.

Conservationists, be they individuals or charitable organisations, with their visionary rewilding schemes, seem hell-bent on turning our countryside into some kind of theme park, where the species of their particular choice take precedence over all other native species. And to what end? Where are the benefits? Where are the wonderful wetland habitats beavers were going to create, for instance?

Despite spreading rapidly from their original clandestine, illegal release into the Isla, through the Tay and Dochart as far west as Tyndrum, into Glen Lyon, and possibly into the Forth catchment area, all we hear about are river banks being eroded, field drain systems being wrecked, and mature trees being destroyed .

The whole concept of rewilding, based on the oft repeated mantra 'we destroyed them, therefore we must must put them back', is leading us up the garden path to huge problems for the future. Maybe it's time to adopt another mantra: 'When you're in the bottom of a hole, stop bloody well digging!'

Mike MacNally,

Home Farm,