Sir, – I share Leslie Robertson’s heartfelt concern (The Scottish Farmer, April 25, Letters page) about the plight of waders as a result of unprecedented predation.

On our farm in the Borders, the arrival in the spring of curlews, lapwings and oyster catchers is eagerly anticipated. However, the pleasure at their arrival is usually short-lived due to the constant harassment these birds face from crows and gulls, not to mention the ever present threat from foxes.

Last year, a small colony of lapwings which took up residence here were driven out by a flock of black headed gulls before they had a chance to rear any young. Although the lapwings have returned this year, it remains to be seen whether they will be able to rear their young before they are predated.

Like Leslie Robertson, we have dug numerous wader scrapes (all of which have dried up this spring) and lime has been applied to fields which curlews and lapwings are known to frequent. But without constant and thorough predator control, all of this work could be totally in vain as these birds stand no chance of rearing their young, let alone surviving themselves.

As a result of government-funded environmental schemes to improve the countryside for wildlife in general, a paradise for wildlife has been established, which has led to the creation of an even bigger paradise for all their predators, many of which have seen their numbers escalate to totally disproportionate levels, entirely thanks to their protected status.

Leslie Robertson wrote about the damage done by ravens, which are subject to protected status. Add to the list of protected species, badgers are prolific killers of ground-nesting birds, their eggs and young – their population has soared from around 50,000 in 1980 to well over 500,000 now.

Foxes are also serious predators of ground-nesting birds, as are crows, jays, magpies, not to mention stoats, weasels, etc – all of which contributes to a very bleak prospect for waders and songbirds. The only way back is to redress the balance between predator and prey, which is currently so out of balance in favour of predators.

This can only be achieved with the support and backing of conservation bodies and governments. Unless action is taken very shortly by governments both north and south of the Border to remove the protected status for certain over abundant predators and to encourage or make predator control an essential part of any government-backed environmental scheme, some of our best loved waders and songbirds are unlikely to be heard or seen for much longer.

Colin Strang Steel

Trustee SongBird Survival,