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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Windermere geese cull opposition mounts

OPPOSITION is mounting against plans to shoot 200 geese as part of a cull on Windermere.

The Lake District National Park Authority is awaiting permission from the government and Natural England to carry out the cull of Canada geese in March or April.

The LDNPA said there were over 1,100 geese during last summer’s peak season and around 700 now.

Naturalists have spoken out against the planned cull and a Facebook campaign is gathering momentum, with 94 members signed to the Save Windermere Canada Geese group.

The national park applied for the cull after it argued the birds were causing damage to reed beds and impeding on agricultural land.

The LDNPA said the large amount of faeces created by the geese was also a problem, both for businesses and as a health hazard in the lake water.

Grange-based ornithologist Clive Hartley criticised the cull and rubbished the idea of pollution, claiming the faeces were “a drop in the ocean”.

He said he was the only person who regularly monitored the number of birds on Windermere and insisted there were never more than 600.

Mr Hartley said: “Why not continue with the control measures they have used and see if it works?

“I just don’t see why they should just pick up a shotgun whenever there is a problem with wildlife, and it is happening increasingly.

“For the national park to be doing it, it sends out the wrong message entirely.

“They and Natural England are conservation bodies and frankly it seems the wrong decision.

“It’s (the 200 earmarked to be culled) one-third of the (Windermere) population and it doesn’t stop there.

“It’s going to make virtually no difference because of the breeding biology of the geese, so you’re actually going to have to do it another year and another year.

“And after two or three years, at the rate they’re going, you have decimated the population in the Windermere catchment area and to a lot of people, me included, that’s not acceptable.”

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said the organisation was not fully aware of the specifics of the matter.

But he said: “Our position is, if they are a health hazard and all non-lethal means of control have been exhausted, then, as long as they follow the agreement of the licence to the letter, it is not something we would object to.”

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