Sir, – Having pointed out an inaccuracy by the BBC Landward programme (are we surprised?) over pollination of cereal crops, Patrick Sleigh (The Scottish Farmer, October 24) once again painted a very realistic, albeit depressing, picture of the destruction of bumble bee and wasp nests by badgers, following another relevant letter (June 27 issue) about conservation.

He is absolutely right to highlight the unchecked predation by badgers, not just of bee and wasp nests but also and equally tragically of ground nesting birds and hedgehogs.

Despite enormous efforts by organisations like 'Working for Waders', ground nesting birds, like curlews, lapwings and oyster catchers, stand little if any chance of survival, let alone rearing any young when badgers are present.

To have seen badger numbers in the UK increase from 50,000 in 1980 to well over 500,000 now – and likely to increase even more due to their grossly overprotected status ( they are uniquely protected by two Acts of Parliament in 1973 and 1992) – is immensely disheartening and frustrating for all those who try to achieve a balanced wildlife situation.

It is not just badgers which can roam unchecked and wreak havoc on the country’s wildlife, but other species like sparrowhawks enjoying the same protected status continue to devastate fragile songbird populations, accounting for up to 30m songbirds per year, a figure which is totally unsustainable.

Our wildlife balance is now overly influenced by the visible attraction and drama of predators such as badgers, birds of prey and our pets (especially cats ). Meanwhile, political votes take priority over biodiversity loss which is all too easily blamed on farmers and global warming.

If we humans need to manage predator species, at least we can strive to be humane, unlike the grisly fate which so often awaits prey species.

So, if governments and conservation organisations are really serious about wildlife and want a varied and resilient population in this country, one way to make an immediate impact would be to lift the protected status on those over-protected mammals and birds of prey.

Nobody is advocating wholesale slaughter of these species, but if we are to have a healthy and balanced wildlife, then action needs to be taken before some of the more vulnerable species become extinct.

The pressure for action has been growing through the columns of The Scottish Farmer, with Patrick Sleigh, Malcolm Hay and Mark Tennant (chairman of Scottish Land and Estates), all expressing concern that governments need to adopt a more enlightened attitude to predation and actually do something rather than just talk about it.

Colin Strang Steel

Trustee SongBird Survival,