Sir, – Since the end of April you have published a steady flow of letters on the subject of wildlife predation.

It is very clear from your correspondents who have written from first hand and often heart breaking experience that all is not well in the countryside with regard to the balance between predator and prey.

We have read a number of first hand accounts ranging from ravens taking both lambs and waders in Caithness, to curlews, lapwings and common gulls being virtually wiped out in Banffshire, despite ongoing keepering, to a constant struggle in the Borders to protect fragile communities of waders and songbirds from predators.

There is a common strand to all of this – however good the habitat and food supply are, they are all rendered meaningless without proper predator control.

For too long the voice of those with practical experience of excessive predation has not been taken seriously, but it is difficult to ignore the evidence when it comes from so many people on the ground in different parts of the country who are witnessing at first hand the relentless decline in species which are meant to be plentiful and not at risk.

The government continues to pour money into conservation schemes which may improve habitat and food supply, but unwittingly they are creating a paradise for predators, many of which are protected and are thriving. All the while, the animals and birds which these schemes are supposed to help, are declining even more rapidly.

I make no apology for quoting again the three-legged stool analogy relating to conservation, where the three legs of the stool are represented by food, habitat and predator control. If one leg of the stool is missing, then it all collapses. For the stool to remain standing it is vital that predator control should be awarded the same degree of importance and financial support as food and habitat.

Now that so much has been said and written at first hand about the devastating effects of predation on livestock as well as wildlife, by people who have witnessed these events, surely it is time for the conservation world, land owners, managers and governments to come together to work out a solution to this increasing problem?

Otherwise, the arguments will continue to rage while those animals and birds most at risk will continue to decline – until in a short time some of them will be no more.

Colin Strang Steel

Trustee SongBird Survival,