Is the Canada geese cull legal?

Posted on the 9th March 2012

Three weeks ago, Animal Aid asked the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) for more information about the proposed cull of 200 Canada geese on Lake Windermere. As yet, the LDNPA has not responded to any letters or emails from the national campaigning organisation and one specific question – whether the Authority is relying on satisfying the conditions of the General Licence in order to kill the popular birds – remains a point of serious contention.

The General Licence permits Canada geese to be killed ‘to preserve public health or public safety’, ‘to conserve flora and fauna’ and ‘to prevent serious damage or disease’. The Lake District National Park Authority has sought to justify its cull plans by referring to each of these issues, but Animal Aid has examined the claims and today expresses serious misgivings about the validity of its arguments and the legality of the cull.

In a recorded interview, park ranger Steve Tatlock, who is spearheading the campaign to kill, admits that the amount of phosphorus the birds contribute to the lake – when compared to the slurry and fertiliser run-off caused by local farming and the pumping of sewage into the lake – is ‘a very small amount’. Furthermore, the LDNPA also admits that ‘Windermere has had no specific studies regarding the effects of Canada geese on local habitat’. Animal Aid believes that the Authority cannot, therefore, satisfy the terms of the General Licence and that the cull is illegal.

Says Head of Campaigns Kate Fowler:

‘The National Park Authority seems to have adopted the attitude that if you make enough wild claims about why geese should be killed, then one of them might just turn out to be legitimate. Our investigations pour doubt on each and every one of those claims. This scattergun approach to justifying a decision makes the Authority look cynical and desperate. If it goes ahead with a cull, the Authority is not only acting immorally, it could also be in breach of the law.’


Animal Aid has written to Natural England urging it to ‘make plain to the LDNPA that unsubstantiated claims are not sufficient to allow it to kill Canada geese and that – if it goes ahead without satisfying the criteria – it may be liable to prosecution’.

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