I WAS horrified to learn on Sunday night’s Countryfile that there are regular culls of mountain hares in Scotland – and they are legal. How? How can they possibly justify this wholesale slaughter of such a beautiful and iconic animal?

Answer (a) the hares spread disease and (b) they compete with grouse for edible heather - plausible but probably phony.

Hence the argument runs, fewer hares mean more grouse and therefore more grouse–shooting which benefits the local economy.

But isn’t grouse-shooting a minority sport, exclusive to bankers, oil sheikhs and the like?

Wouldn’t it benefit the local economy far more if shooting were to be banned and the moors as a result made more accessible to ordinary people, who would doubtless flock there in their thousands to enjoy the scenery and the wildlife?

That would make far more sense – both moral and economic – than in effect designating the Highlands as the exclusive playground of the idle rich.

Tony Kelly, Crook