LETTER: Wildfowlers boost local economy

The way that the RSPB has behaved in its purchase of the Crook of Baldoon and subsequent treatment of both the local community and the wider community of visiting wildfowlers is a disgrace. For one of the richest charities in the country to use public money to fund the purchase and then propose to ban a perfectly legitimate and sustainable activity should lead to a public inquiry. The remainder of Wigtown Bay is already an incredibly well run and organised local nature reserve which is sensibly and sympathetically managed to benefit the whole community – not just birdwatchers. We, as responsible wildfowlers, already warden and keep our own house in order. The whole of the Crook should be brought in to the LNR and preserved for all users of the bay – not just a tiny minority.

I and my friends have been visiting Wigtown for more than 25 years, spending many thousands of pounds in that period, and at a time of the year (January and February) when the local tourist trade is at its lowest point. If the RSPB manages to persuade the council to “ban everything unless it is birdwatching”, that will all cease very quickly. The Crook has always been one of the main flightlines for geese and the RSPB knows that in offering a derisory length of merse for wildfowling as a “compromise”, it will soon effectively end shooting on the whole bay. Who will be booking up the local B&Bs and self-catering accommodation and spending in the pubs and shops then?

The RSPB points to tourism from birdwatchers in January and February: if they are so keen, why do we not see them now? I just hope that common sense prevails and this over powerful charity is not allowed to force its will on all concerned.

Steve Brown, Member, Creetown Wildfowlers, Leicestershire.