ALASDAIR Mitchell, writing on behalf of the National Gamekeepers' Association (HAS, Apr 26), makes a ridiculous attack on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) for attempting to raise funds from members by highlighting the continued illegal persecution of birds of prey.

The RSPB raises funds to fight such crimes, not to "fill its coffers", as he puts it.

In 2006, there were more than 180 reports of birds of prey being shot or poisoned, so the RSPB will need to continue to highlight these incidents.

He claims that birds of prey numbers are at an all time high, but omits to state that they are recovering slightly from all time lows due to many years of persecution.

If the population levels are so high, why then do we have no hen harriers breeding on the North York Moors, in the Pennines or the Derbyshire Dales?

Why are there only 14 pairs of hen harriers breeding countrywide when it is estimated that there should be up to 200 pairs breeding?

The fact that prosecutions of gamekeepers for illegal killing still takes place suggests there is work for the RSPB to do.

Eric Gendle, Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough.