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Do you agree with the practice of disrupting nesting birds by using such tactics?

Yes, this is an acceptable practice; there is a risk to health
No votes
Yes, this is an acceptable practice; there are too many black-headed gulls.
No votes
Yes, this is an acceptable practice; WWT have to manage the site.
No votes
No, this an unacceptable practice by a conservation organisation.
Total votes: 3

Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 4:11 pm
Location: Belfast


Postby Jabberwocky » Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:56 pm

I would be interested in your thoughts.

This year, the Wetland Widlfowl Trust (WWT) at Castle Espie put down nets over the Black-Headed Gull and Common/Arctic Tern nesting shingle and flew large kites (brightly coloured with eye-shaped patternation) for a period of about 5 weeks. The reason they argue is to prevent the Blacked-Headed Gulls from taking over the whole of the site and that there was a health and safety issue (to the public) from E-Coli and that as a public attraction, they had a duty of care to the paying public.

I raised the issue recently at the Castle Espie Bird-Watching Club AGM; an extract from the minutes is shown below:

"Club Member, Kevin Kirham-Brown asked what the Club’s views were on the issue of the Black-Headed Gulls. These gulls are on the Amber List and Castle Espie had continually prevented them from nesting by walking through disturbing them and flying bird-scaring kites. Dot [Bleakley] (Chair) had said this was a lot to do with Health and Safety and she radioed Kerry Mackie (Centre Manager) to return to the meeting to explain.

Kerry explained that there was a risk of ecoli to the public due to the excessive amount of droppings.

The high numbers of gulls were also having an effect on other species of nesting birds and the site had to be managed."

Personally; I believe we interfere too much in these matters. WWT manages wetland to encourage wetland species (such as the black-headed gull) and that each species should be allowed to find their own space. The disruption to black-headed gull nesting also disrupted the nesting of other species. This sounds like another case of health and safety phobia; or an excuse!

What are your thoughts?

Wandering Tattler
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 4:57 pm
Location: Beverley, East Yorkshire


Postby Wandering Tattler » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:07 am

I do not think I have enough information to vote but the subject is an interesting one. Some of our key charities (eg RSPB) are backed by their membership to purchase key habitat and then the focus shifts from wildlife to the general public. I think this can even be at the expense of its own members, eg reserves opening late and closing early with limited access. Some of the charities appear to have a business model that they follow and this can lead to sterile reserves.

As a member of the WWT I am disappointed to hear that the trust is putting off gulls and terns. I have visited Castle Espie several times and loved birding Strangford Lough. If the gulls are predating a rarer species and their presence is due to human activity then I could understand the need to manage the problem. If the reason is solely due to visitor safety then I disagree. If people choose to visit places where wildlife live then the should be prepared to compromise. Good clear signage should be sufficient in my opinion.

I experienced a similar problem in Canada where the park authorities were forced to shot two Cougars in a National Park because they feared that they might hurt people. What is the point in having a Natiuonal Park to preserve the wildlife if you then have to shoot it?

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