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Letter: Reintroduction of species in the New Forest is catastrophic for other wildlife

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SIR – Since the national park and various conservation groups have taken over the running of the New Forest, things seem to have deteriorated in many areas – one being the reintroduction of goshawks and protection of otters, both having considerable impact.

I believe there are 40 pairs of goshawks in the Forest but why do we need them? The long-term effect on the bird and animal population will be catastrophic if their numbers aren’t controlled.

The Forest is too small to sustain them, whereas the wilds of Scotland are their ideal habitat with endless space and no encroachment on domestic smallholdings. Nature keeping the balance by natural selection.

In the New Forest the goshawks are killing jays, magpies, all woodpeckers, starlings, blackbirds, thrushes, pigeons, squirrels and rabbits to such an extent that the inclosures at Linford, where I have walked twice a day for the last 20 years, are bereft of them.

I thought the Forest was supposed to support and sustain varied wildlife?

One local Ossemsley resident had to chase a goshawk from her garden when it attacked chickens and ducks, ripping them up as they were too heavy to carry off. These apex predators have no natural enemies so their numbers increase yearly and when they have decimated Forest wildlife, they move to domestic prey.

This is natural and not the fault of the goshawks; it is the ill-conceived idea of the national park to reintroduce them. The Forest keepers used to control the vermin on their beats and cull them to keep a natural balance and it worked well.

Otters are the other issue: they are protected and their numbers increase yearly, devastating fish stocks and birdlife. Ground-nesting birds around ponds, lakes and rivers have their eggs and young eaten, giving them no chance to balance their numbers naturally.

The otters increase due to their protected status, and fish and birdlife decrease. Is this good conservation?

People living in the Forest and surrounding areas can see this happening and have no way to stop it. The same with the goshawks – the wildlife is suffering due to an imbalance.

I am more than happy for a national park representative to accompany me through Linford inclosures to prove my point, but if nothing is done soon we will only have horses, cows, deer and raptors left in the New Forest.

I wonder how many other people have noticed the same as I?

Pat Woolley,


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