I READ Douglas Batchelor’s letter in the December 16 edition and, like much sensationalist tabloid rubbish, it doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Anyone who’s been anywhere near a grouse moor on a shooting day will have seen that it could never be described as “mass slaughter”.

The proportion of shots fired to birds in the bag is generally very low. And that’s not because the guns “have had no training or experience of using a gun before in their life”. It’s simply because trying to hit a bird travelling at 40 mph, when you only see it for a couple of seconds, is not that easy.

As for “wiping-out other species to protect grouse”, there are always trade-offs to be made in any form of land management. But the fact that nearly all grouse moors are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and the large majority are in ‘favourable condition’ (as assessed by the Government’s nature conservation agency Natural England) speaks for itself. As does the fact that populations of red-listed wading bird species are much higher on managed moorland where predators are controlled.

The on-going nature of predator control means that, by definition, species cannot have been “wiped out”. Moreover, even the RSPB controls ground predators on some of its reserves, to protect the eggs and young of rarer, more vulnerable and threatened species.

But the real clincher for this story is that he can’t even get the correct date for the legal close of the grouse shooting season. The last day is December 10, not December 12 – getting such a basic fact wrong will undoubtedly make your readers consider how much else in the letter might be equally badly researched.

Paul Jackson, Nunnington.

* I MUST respond to the letter of Douglas Batchelor, chief executive for the League Against Cruel Sports (December 16).

You would think that Mr Batchelor would get his facts right before putting pen to paper.

For his information, the grouse season starts on August 12 (Glorious 12th) and it finished on December 10, not the 12th. I suppose his inaccuracies enhance his letter.

As regards his comments that guns have no experience, this is nonsense. Grouse shooting is the most expensive, and the most difficult. Grouse fly the fastest of any game bird.

Therefore, inexperienced untrained guns would not go on a grouse moor to gain experience and waste their money, novice shooters would start on low land pheasant and partridge, and it is my experience that a novice or a young gun will be accompanied with a mentor/tutor, until he is deemed fit and safe.

Finally, I hope he knows that the picture shown with his letter depicts a fine cock pheasant, and not a grouse.

John Cole, Foston