Boost for campaign to stop ruddy duck slaughter

Posted on the 23rd March 2007

National campaign organisation Animal Aid, which has fought plans to cull the UK’s ruddy duck population for the past ten years, is delighted by Wigan Council’s announcement that it is suspending a local cull and urges DEFRA to reconsider its policy on the ruddy duck.

Following a four month campaign, led by Community Action Party leader Peter Franzen, an Extraordinary Meeting of Wigan Council was held this week to debate the issue of the proposed cull of the ruddy duck population on Wigan and Leigh flashes.

At the meeting, in an amazing display of cross party unity, a motion was passed unanimously requesting that DEFRA ‘reconsiders its decisions permitting the culling of the ruddy duck population in Wigan and elsewhere in Britain. The motion also calls for the implementation and completion of a proper examination of the validity of the claimed reasons for the cull and an investigation of all the up-to-date scientific information including the research and observations of internationally renowned bird expert Tom Gullick, the County Bird Recorder for Greater Manchester, Judith Smith, the Leigh Ornithological Society, the RSPCA, Animal Aid and other wildlife organisations’.

Animal Aid will now be writing to councils across the country, urging them to follow Wigan’s lead in pressing the government to stop this cruel and senseless exercise.

Says Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid:

‘The killing of ruddy ducks is yet another example of the arrogance of some old world ‘conservationists’ who believe that they can shoot and poison their way to environmental harmony. The slaughter of the ruddy ducks is a vicious, insane, massively expensive and logistically impossible exercise. It has no public support and seems designed to please only a small number of obsessives, who are interfering with nature in ways they can neither understand nor control.’

Notes to editors

  • The government is spending £8.5million of public money in an attempt to exterminate Britain’s ruddy ducks. Experts argue that it is logistically impossible to eradicate a whole population spread over 1,000 UK sites and across 20 countries.
  • Introduced to Britain in the 1940s by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, ruddy duck escapees have successfully bred and some have migrated to Spain where they are said to have mated with the endangered white headed duck. The resulting offspring are considered ‘impure’ by some conservationists and bird watchers. Ruddys have, therefore, been sentenced to death in the name of blood purity. Hunting and habitat loss are the reasons the white headed duck is endangered.
  • Tom Gullick, a leading British ornithologist living in Spain, first alerted the Spanish authorities to the precarious position of white headed ducks – whose population had shrunk to just 20 or 30 birds. The Spanish took action to preserve the main breeding grounds and their white headed population has since grown to somewhere between 1,000 and 3000 birds.
  • Gullick has described the ruddy duck cull as a ‘pointless and extremely expensive massacre…’ and a ‘…scandalous misuse of rare conservation money’. He believes there is very little hybridisation involving ruddys and white headeds; that the ruddy ducks who did reach Spain were most likely coming from neighbouring France where they are kept in waterfowl collections; and that the Spanish should concentrate on further restoration and management of their wetlands.

Further Information: Andrew Tyler 01732 364546
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