Dear editor — I had just settled down to my favourite read of the month, when I spotted a very sensible letter on bovine TB from Nicholas Fenwick, of the FUW alongside the monthly comment in Debbie James’ usual forthright style of good, earthy common sense, targeting the absurd (I do so agree) inane legislation, which is requiring our hard-working farmers to jump through hoops.

Musing over these subjects, I was reminded that during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, when agricultural censuses were first recorded, nearly every farm in Pembrokeshire listed in its livestock return between 50-100 hens — free range, of course.

How could that be if fox numbers were uncontrolled, electric fencing had not been invented and no other measures were available to protect the hens? Of course, fox numbers were controlled by the people who lived in the country, as were other species.

This included badgers, so that excessive numbers did not unduly interfere with the health of domestic livestock.

The countryside in the late 20th, and early 21st centuries has a totally different scourge to deal with.

The townsman now has the money and the leisure to impose his ideas on the traditional occupiers of the countryside — the agriculturists.

Suddenly, birds and animals are protected, and for some strange reason some organisations particularly champion predators, which had previously been adequately controlled.

Protected species now include the sparrowhawk, which has so increased in numbers that our songbirds are being decimated at an unprecedented rate. Our once famous ‘dawn chorus’ is down to blackbird choristers, mainly because you can hear them from over half a mile away, and very few other birds, which in my childhood amounted to a nearly deafening concert. The goshawk, which was not even recorded as a British bird by Kirkman and Jourdain, is now protected in the UK to the detriment of most other feathered species.

Why not protect mink (nice, cuddly looking things) while they are about it?

In short, the wrong people have the ear of the politicians and law makers, and the time is now when these changes must be reversed if the countryside we know and love is to be preserved for future generations.

Richard Sykes Forest Farm, Narberth.