YOUR story, "Sightings urged in study of rare bird of prey" (Echo, Apr 11), about hen harriers, should be put into context.

Although hen harrier numbers are low in England, they are probably higher today than at any time in living memory. In the UK as a whole, the species has shown a 30 per cent increase over the past 15 years, to more than 800 breeding pairs.

The challenge is how to host an increase in hen harriers without destroying the jobs of the gamekeepers who look after the moors and thereby preserve the chief nesting habitat of some of our best-loved birds, including curlew and golden plover.

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RSPB research shows that moors managed by gamekeepers hold many more breeding pairs of these vulnerable species than do other moors.

To address the issues posed by hen harriers, a dispute resolution process is currently being hosted by the Environment Council. The National Gamekeepers' Organisation is playing a full role in this.

It would be a pity if the chance of real progress were to be hindered by simplistic views of a complex problem.

A Mitchell, on behalf of the National Gamekeepers' Organisation, Barnard Castle, County Durham.