Wildlife campaigners petition the National Park Authority

Posted on the 20th February 2012

On Friday 24th February at 1pm, campaigners opposing the cull of Canada geese on Lake Windermere will hand in a 2,000-strong petition to the Lake District National Park Authority (on Oxenholme Road, Kendal) calling on it to reverse its ‘unethical and unjustifiable’ decision.

The Authority plans to shoot 200 of the 1000 resident geese this year as it claims that the birds are responsible for polluting the lake and causing damage through grazing. When asked about the scientific basis for its claims, the Authority admitted: ‘Windermere has had no specific studies regarding the effects of Canada geese on local habitat.’

Animal Aid, the national campaign group, which is helping to coordinate opposition to the cull, brands as ‘highly dubious’ the Authority’s claims that a cull is essential.

Kate Fowler, Head of Campaigns at Animal Aid, says:

‘The idea that the geese are responsible for phosphorus in the lake, when raw sewage is pumped into it, the fertiliser from a hundred farms runs into it, and detergents and dishwater tablets also end up in Windermere, is utterly implausible. Killing geese should be the last thing on their minds when they have such vast quantities of pollutants from traceable sources to clean up. This cull is unethical and unjustifiable.’

Kathy Musker from the campaign group Respect for Wildlife organised the petition hand-in. She says:

‘The Authority claims that geese are damaging grass by eating it but no evidence has yet been made public, and outbursts from farmers is not sufficient. Even if the geese do eat grass that farmers wish to feed to sheep, there are three million sheep in Cumbria. Is there really not room for 1000 geese?’

Warrington resident Neil Ryding, who started the petition, said:

‘It’s the first petition I have created but I had to do something. It breaks my heart to think of what the geese in Windermere will have to endure. I’m thrilled that so many people have spoken up in defence of these innocent birds. I just hope it’s enough to save them.’

Those opposing the cull believe that non-lethal measures must be given time to work and have written to the Authority to ask exactly what non-lethal measures it has tried, the duration of any such trials and the results. They have yet to receive a response.

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