Reader’s letters - Monday August 25, 2014

Grouse shoots hold key to wildlife management, according to one correspondent

Grouse shoots hold key to wildlife management, according to one correspondent

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Hen harriers need shoots

Chris Packham, the BBC Spring Watch presenter has lost his way with contradictory, confused and illogical pleas on hen harrier day.

Packham, president of the Hawk and Owl Trust and British Trust for Ornithology has exceptional credentials as a birder but his call for an outright ban on grouse shooting whilst acknowledging that “we need a economically sustainable rural landscape” is nothing short of bird-brained.

He seeks to stop the very conservation management that supports important wildlife and the local economy. He contradicts himself by also calling for gamekeepers to be licensed – those same keepers who would have lost their jobs through his ban – and then goes on to say land managers should be paid a subsidy for having birds of prey.

Who would pay for that, and why is it required when there is a well researched Defra-led conservation plan on the table for the recovery of the hen harrier?

He calls his campaign ‘audacious’ and we can only agree with his completely reckless disregard for the 3.5 times better chance ground nesting birds on moorland with gamekeepers have of fledging their chicks thanks to predator control.

This results in up to five times more abundance in birds like lapwing, curlew and golden plover which are declining in numbers elsewhere. Don’t chuck the baby out with the bath water Mr Packham.

Get behind the Joint Recovery Plan and lead the constructive way forward. Add your voice and sign here http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/67527

Amanda Anderson, director, The Moorland Association, Austwick, Lancaster

History lesson on wild birds

I have recently had in my possession grouse shooting records which detail the number of birds shot for every year between 1895-1935. The records relate to a relatively small area of moor at the eastern end of Longridge Fell. The land was formerly owned by the Worsley Taylor estate.

Given the range of the moor, the bags were amazing – averaging over 200 brace per year, the best bag being 270 brace in 1935!

There would probably have been about six days shooting a season with about six to eight guns. They used seven to ten beaters each being paid six shillings per day.

There was no full time gamekeeper as such but the Marsden family at Greenthorn Farm managed the shoot as well as rearing sheep and cattle. I don’t know when the driven grouse shooting finished but I came to know the land in the 1950s when my father was invited to shoot rabbits there with William Marsden and Roger Marsden and there were certainly grouse there.

This was permanently ended when the Worsley Taylor Estate was sold. The Marsden family were able to buy Greenthorn Farm and it is still owned by the family. The rest of the land I think was bought by Gallaghers Tobacco Pension Fund, ‘managed’ for them by the Economic Forestry Group. The moor was ploughed with the then specialist Cuthbertson ploughs and the beautiful heather was thus destroyed. Commercial planting of conifers (no hardwoods) took place and the whole ecology was, of course, changed.

I don’t know whether there were hen harriers there prior to this destruction but there were certainly raptors. The Marsden family controlled the number of foxes but there was certainly no persecution of other species.

In conclusion, if an area so small and so adjacent to towns and villages like Longridge, Clitheroe, Chipping and Stonyhurst could yield over 200 brace of grouse per year, it would certainly have been able to support a pair or two of hen harriers!

The moral of the story has to be, leave the heather alone and nurture it for the sake of both the Red Grouse and then Hen Harriers!

Richard Walne,Chipping

Looking for old firm memories

In 2015 Trutex will be 150 years old, having been established in Grindleton in 1865 as the Clitheroe Shirting Company.

As part of the celebrations for our 150th year we would like to create a document detailing the history of the company, and we were hoping readers would help us with this.

Although I am personally not from the area, it is clear to me that many people from the surrounding towns and villages have, at some point, had a connection to Trutex, either working for the company directly or knowing someone who has.

We would like these people to get in contact and give us as much information as they can about the history of the company. Specifically it would be great to know past history on the following: Owners of the business; key personnel and positions; information on factory locations and when these opened and closed; the brands sold by the company; types of products; any marketing campaign in which the company was involved.

Of course any Trutex related photographs or memorabilia people may have which they are willing to let us look at would be much appreciated.

People can send in their stories to memories@trutex.com or they can put them on our Facebook or Twitter pages, both of which can be found be searching for TrutexLtd.

We would like to thank your readers very much in advance and are looking to find out a bit more about our history which we would like to share with local people next year.

Matthew Easter, managing director

Time limit on House of Lords

I was quite staggered to hear the House of Lords is full to overflowing – even more staggered when it comes to light they can claim £300 per day for attending.

I agree the House of Lords does good work in preventing some of the sillier aspirations and legislation the Commons try to get through, but do we really need all these Lords and Ladies?

But as taxpayers, should we not be questioning the huge financial drain on our finances these peers receive especially as they can carry on claiming until they pop their clogs!

The fact they receive a life long peerage for their service is fine, but maybe put in a caveat that being a member of the House of Lords ceases at 75.

K Sheridan, address supplied