JON Robinson's story (Plans to remove hen harrier chick rejected, LT November 18) centred on just the RSPB’s solo and disappointing stance within the Hen Harrier Recovery Plan discussions. Perhaps we could supply the missing information.

As managers of 860,000 acres of iconic heather moorland, Moorland Association (MA) members are only too aware of the importance of helping one of England’s most beleaguered breeding birds.

We, along with other countryside organisations, have been lobbying Defra for the recovery plan and a crack-down on wildlife crime.

The bone of contention in Defra’s six-point plan is RSPB’s opposition to the removal of chicks from the wild to rear them in aviaries, away from predators and harm, and then release back into the wild.

An independent poll showed 67 per cent of the society’s donors supported this action.

‘Brood management’ is an internationally recognised conservation technique for increasing bird numbers, not further reducing them.

It is used by RSPB for successful reintroduction of other special species, including red kites and white-tailed eagles. Why should it be different for hen harriers?

Because RSPB dislikes driven grouse shooting and is trying to get the public fired-up to back its proposal to impose further restrictive, ill-defined and ineffective regulation.

The RSPB has turned the hen harrier debate into a political football. MA believes this bird deserves better.

Seldom acknowledged is MA’s £52.5million annual spend on conservation and the protection of seriously threatened species like lapwing, curlew and golden plover on these fragile, rare and nationally designated landscapes.

Without grouse shooting, moorland rarer than rainforest would have been destroyed by inappropriate grazing or forestry, a fact RSPB freely admits.

Calls to licence or ban driven grouse shooting would not result in the protection of wildlife. It would have a disastrous effect on a wide range of the country’s endangered ground-nesting birds, countryside jobs, and see moorland revert to barren scrubland, at risk of wildfire.

Ironically, the country’s first hen harrier chicks for two years were born on Bowland moors managed by gamekeepers.

Sign the petition to help us see more harriers on more grouse moors. Amanda Anderson, director, Moorland Association (via email)