I THINK there is a major problem, not just with hen harriers, but with the wild bird population in the UK.

When did you last hear a cuckoo, a skylark or a corncrake?

It is alleged that gamekeepers are responsible for setting traps and poison bait and that the recently re-introduced red kite, and the even rarer hen harriers, have been their victims.

This is in the belief that these beautiful raptors take the occasional young game chicks when in reality these birds feed mainly on carrion.

Earlier this year, Pippa Middleton and several friends were photographed standing over a pile of dead pheasants, partridges and other game birds.

The image represented a bunch of trophy hunters, pleased with their efforts; a day’s shooting on a private estate, with the inevitable result and the pheasants and partridges totally defenceless in terms of fighting back.

It was reminiscent of the Victorian aristocracy who, because of their position and wealth, went big game hunting in Africa in search of trophies for the walls of their castles and country houses. At a time when many other species of bird are in decline, why do we continue to accept this barbaric pursuit for the chosen few who are rich enough to afford it?

One wonders about the morals of those involved in this “sport” of shooting defenceless creatures.

If I were to do the same, I would be prosecuted for trespass and poaching.

John Vayro, Hartlepool.