BEFORE I make comment on red grouse shooting, I should make it clear, that “gamekeeper” is a loose definition of the people employing and employed by red grouse shooting estates.

In Glasgow, we used to say someone was “taking a len’ o’ us” when they treated us all like idiots.

I know we are awaiting the outcome of the consultation on licensing driven grouse moors, but I can’t help thinking that’s exactly what the driven grouse shooting estates are trying to do with our government.

They have already succeeded in convincing Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Scottish Government’s scientific advisers on our natural environment, who appear to be simple “yes” men to the driven red grouse industry. They gave gamekeepers permission to cull/kill ravens, in Strathbaan, just to see what the effects would be. That isn’t science! And they give scientific advice to our Scottish Government?

How long before the Scottish Government takes real action to prevent the decimation of indigenous flora and fauna on Scottish moorlands and mountains and also start asking SNH what they’re playing at?

To protect the red grouse, mountain hares are now subject to an annual cull (and SNH have nothing to say about that) and your paper, quoting Adam Watson, tells us this population is now at a 60-year low. On the other hand, we have the red grouse “industry” telling us that in fact there are far more mountain hare now than ever! This, after newspaper photographs (not denied) of gamekeepers towing trailers full of dead ones: shot in the “annual cull” (38,000 killed last year’s culling/killing season up to May 2018).

Aye, taking a len’ o’ us, right enough!

Apparently all this because the gamekeepers tell us the hares carry a disease which negatively impacts the aforementioned red grouse. It may of course just be a coincidence that mountain hares dare to eat similar food to that of red grouse!

That same red grouse is so over bred, with all its natural predators “disappeared”, that it is starting to naturally self-regulate, by succumbing to diseases.

Incidentally, the gamekeepers who work on the hills and moors NEVER EVER see anyone killing a single protected bird of prey. Is it not strange that the people who can kill stoats, weasels, foxes and crows (legally) and are trained observers, and see innumerable mountain hares, never see anything else being shot, or poisoned and certainly are NEVER the ones who find them, or report it?

Who’d have believed that?

These gamekeepers don’t seem to realise predators are natural and are nature’s way of keeping a balance in the ecosystem. Ensuring predators aren’t around actually causes an imbalance, which nature will correct.

Now, enter that new red grouse management tool: medicated grit. Your readers should understand that the medication is mixed in grit trays that are left, unattended of course, for the red grouse to ingest, as a necessary part of their digestive process. There is no measurement of the amount of medication which is ingested and apparently the provision of the medicated grit ceases one month before the “Glorious Twelfth” so that grouse can be sold, with a straight face, as “organic”!

Of course, mountain hares do not ingest grit and of course are simply shot for allegedly having a disease which affects the (now medicated) mountain chickens.

I and many, many more understand exactly what is going on in our mountains and on our moorlands and it’s time for it to stop. Do something positive for our wildlife. They are among my country’s assets and it’s time they were properly protected.

Harry Bickerstaff

READ MORE: Shocking 60 year decline in Scotland's mountain hare population

READ MORE: Letters: Estates have no interest in protecting our wildlife