WHILE having lunch on a recent walk in the North Yorkshire dales, I heard the sound of a crow in distress and, having gone to investigate, found a gamekeeper hidden behind a boulder using tape recordings of crows to attract other birds into the area.

A gun was close at hand.

So what? They are only crows!

But this is the tip of a much bigger iceberg - when was the last time you saw a hen harrier, kite, peregrine, buzzard or raven in the hills of the North? These are all birds protected by law, but regularly persecuted by gamekeepers.

The RSPB states that England's uplands could support more than 200 pairs of hen harriers if the killings were to stop, but to see their numbers and range increase, hen harriers must first be allowed to breed successfully on moorland managed for grouse shooting.

The hills of northern England are beautiful, but the bird life is sadly restricted in favour of grouse.

Cannot they be managed successfully for all birds? As long as ignorance and outdated ideas about "vermin" continue, the outlook is bleak.

Anybody who sees a wild bird crime can report it to the RSPB via their website.

Name supplied, Darlington