I refer to your press release onenvironmental bodies giving advice that has led to a fall in cu rlews and other species.
Onthe hills arou nd ou r farm near Abergavenny, for some years we have beeninu ndated with bu zzards, kites, crows and magpies. Onou rs and neighbou ring farms these are responsible for raid ing nests and killing nu mbers of smaller wild life and bird s, and of cou rse lambs.
These birds, as well as badgers, are also decimating the food su pply for smaller species, also with d amaging resu lts.
The other day, I saw three red kites killing a domestic cat from a house adjoining the farm. They su bsequ ently ate it. Never inmy seventy odd years have I seenanything like this before.
Du ring my you th, many local menwou ld go shooting crows and rooks at weekends. This kept nu mbers u nder control. Few arou nd here shoots crows or magpies any more.
WhenI was you ng, most farms had a pair or two of magpies, and inthose nu mbers they didn’t do mu ch damage. The other day I cou nted fifteenmagpies inone tree. Du ring lambing I have regu larly noted a weakly lamb whilst going downthe fields, and made a note to take it u p to the hou se onmy way back u p. Inevitably, twenty minu tes later I find the lamb dead, with its eyes gone. The actionof the magpies taking the eyes kills the lamb immediately. However, I have seenolder lambs down, bu t alive, with one eye gone. Inevitably the cu lprit is a magpie or crow, and these birds, innu mbers, also carry disease to wildlife and farm stock.
Local farmers have told me inu nionmeetings inrecent years that ravens inthis area have waited for a ewe to start lambing, and the moment the feet appear, they pu ll the lamb ou t of the ewe and make off with it, u su ally cau sing d amage to the ewe as well as to the farmer.
Losses of lambs and domestic pou ltry have dramatically increased since fox hu nting was banned. Our chickens are free range, and we didn’t lose a henfor twelve years. As soonas hu nting was banned we started losing birds, and this has continu ed ever since. Protesters objected to hu nting as class war and onthe basis of cru elty. As farmers, the biggest effect of traditional hunting appeared to be the deterrent effect to foxes, rather thanthe limited nu mbers of foxes killed by hou nds. The fox is a cheeky predator, and if it is kept cau tiou s of man we lose less chickens.
The ill considered re‐wilding proposals inmid Wales and other areas wou ld discou rage large nu mbers of the pu blic from visiting the hills. Inaddition, districts su bject to re‐wilding will have to be securely fenced, otherwise, lynx and other predators will escape and breed, as has happened with wild boar inthe Forest of Dean.
Suffice to say, ill advised countryside agencies have protected to various degrees several species of killers, su ch as bad gers and kites. Unfortu nately, once the species has beensaved , they have failed to remove the protection, with disastrou s resu lts to natu re as a whole as well as to farming.
For these people to su bsequ ently blame farmers for the damage for which they are partly or largely responsible has the potential to cause further immense damage. They have set themselves u p as experts, whereas infact they are inmany cases gu ilty of ill advised meddling with the natu re they profess to love.
You rs faithfu lly
Chris Jones, Gwent FUW.