WHILE mountain hares are a much-loved mammal (Animal charity pleads for ban of hare culling, The National, 31 July), it should be recognised that Scottish managed moorland creates fantastic reserves for the species. Controlled culls are carried out by different organisations, including conservation bodies, and this is no different to managing deer or rabbit populations.

Mountain hares are only culled when numbers are high in order to prevent grazing damage to fragile habitats, tree-planting schemes and for limiting the spread of tick-borne diseases such as Louping ill and Lyme disease. Culling is normally undertaken by estate staff but on occasion, guests take part under the supervision of gamekeepers, similar to control of deer. This is not new and can provide a small source of income to an estate.

A number of estates are working with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the James Hutton Institute to develop new methods of counting hares. Scotland’s Moorland Forum will also be publishing a best practice guide to management of mountain hares in the next few months.
Tim Baynes
Director, Scottish Moorland Group

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We need to keep indyref2 question short and simple

TWO things occur to me following Carlyn Leckie’s excellent piece (We need to be patient ... and most of all to listen, The National, July 31).

First, it would seem that the patience is required to gently nudge the doubters along the path to Scottish self-determination — softly, softly, catchy monkey. However, isn’t the tension that those who are engaging with contemporary politics can readily see the Brexit disaster looming, and Westminster’s appalling mishandling of it?

Isn’t it difficult to be patient when you know harm is coming, and that steps could be taken now to alleviate it? At least the Scottish Government’s call for a referendum when the terms of Brexit are known gave hope that any transition to independence could be effected prior to the damaging consequences. Hopefully after the Scottish Independence Convention a clearer way forward will restore hope.

Secondly, the single biggest failure of the Brexit referendum has to be expecting a simple answer to a complex issue from an electorate bamboozled by complex arguments on equally complex issues. The Westminster government is now asking questions on those issues that should have been researched, reported and debated in Parliament before any referendum. Instead the debate degenerated into factions telling downright lies, with no accountability for the nonsense promulgated.

Indyref1 was no different. The electorate then based their decisions on scurrilously flawed information, the consequence of which is the impending economic disaster facing us all.

For me indyref2 should be different. Scotland should not be independent unless we have faith in our Scottish Parliament to competently administer our nation better and fairer for us all.

That being the case, indyref2 becomes for me a very fundamental question about my place in my nation. Do I want the independence to allow my Scottish Government to craft a constitution that protects me? I say Yes. All of the other issues that obscured the last referendum can be dealt with as and when by our democratically elected government — either through votes in Parliament or referring them directly to the electorate.

My plea is, let’s KISS for independence this time.: Keep It Short and Simple.
Jim Taylor
Edinburgh

AN article in The National confirmed that Lynx Trust UK has applied to carry out a trial introduction of six Eurasian Lynx to the English part of the Kielder Forest from where they might cross into Scotland (Crofters and farmers concerned as bid to reintroduce lynx south of the Border steps up, The National, July 17). According to internet reports, the ground in Kielder Forest was deliberately selected because it is cross-Border and therefore governed by two separate jurisdictions of Scotland and England. We are told that SNH is being kept informed. Before even considering the proposals, a visit to the Lynx reservation in the Harz Mountains in Germany is recommended. There one will see a number of lynx in large enclosures in a Zoo-like environment. An adult lynx is the height of a large dog. There is one animal per enclosure as they are solitary and ferocious predators. The enclosures have high strong fences, about double the height of a deer fence. The animals are fed through a double enclosure system, with the meat being thrown in at a safe distance, from an opening high up on the inner fence, so that at no time is the keeper in the enclosure with the animal. It is recognised that they would be a danger to humans as well as to other animals.

A lynx would tackle animals such as deer and moose, as well as species we are trying to protect such as sheep, cattle, pigs, poultry, ground-nesting birds, badgers, red squirrels, pine martens, hedgehogs, otters, capercaillie, the Scottish wild cat etc. Tracked wild lynx on mainland Europe have been observed to roam hundreds of miles. The lynx is no respecter of landlord.

Hopefully Scotland’s future land use policy does not lie in the extension of shooting estates in this way. SNH should not only be “kept informed” but should immediately raise an action to interdict the owners of the affected land from introducing the lynx to Scotland (or to an open area of England from which it could easily cross over into Scotland.)
C Walker
Aberdeenshire

I READ with interest Craig Cairns excellent piece (Liam Fox’s view are ‘a fiction of imagination’, The National, July 31). Professor Alison Phipps is correct in her analysis of Dr Fox and his [apparent] illogical approach to immigration/unregulated free movement etc etc. I have to wonder, however, if it is all just, too well choreographed by Dr Fox and his Brexiteer pals?

You could say that Fox has the same [apparent] scatterbrained attitude to a wonderful UK-saving trade deal with Trumpland Chicken etc. However, Fox is a very clever fox indeed. All of the above may be a summer time divergence for the right-wing and left-wing press and the broadcast media (particularly the good old BBC). Liam Fox is too clever by half.

Many of us residents in the Highlands, and I assume across Scotland, have called him the “fox” for years. He has good connections in the US arms industry and much more. We can recall how he was embarrassingly forced to resign as Defence Secretary in 2011 because of his indiscreet behaviour with his pals vis meetings with defence contractors etc. I could go on!
Graham Noble
Kinlocheil, Fort William