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STOP THE RUDDY SLAUGHTER
Posted 3 May 1999
Animal Aid recently staged a Week of Action as part of its continuing campaign aimed at forcing the government to cancel trial shootings of ruddy ducks in the UK. Despite widespread public opposition, the cull is being backed by organisations such as the RSPB, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and English Nature.
Our first demonstration at Minsmere RSPB bird reserve in Suffolk, attracted major regional radio and newspaper coverage. Animal Aid protesters dressed as ruddy ducks and an 'RSPB bird killer', and spent the day distributing leaflets and campaign postcards to visitors. Next was a demo at English Nature's Peterborough headquarters - at which we staged an occupation for several hours. Then came more leafleting and a 'die-in' at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Slimbridge follow.
Ruddy ducks are being targeted because they have reportedly spread from here to Spain where they are mating with the endangered white-headed duck - (endangered because it has been hunted and its habitat destroyed). The result of this mating is an 'impure' hybrid, which leaders of some conservation groups refuse to tolerate.
Trial shootings of the ducks began during April in Anglesey. Shooting in the West Midlands was due to start soon after, and in Fife during September. The eventual aim is to wipe out the entire UK population of 4,000 birds - at a cost of around £800,000 to the taxpayer.
Animal Aid has been campaigning against this proposed slaughter for more than 2 years. Our efforts resulted in cull plans being cancelled back in 1997. At that stage, English Nature - who had been advising the government on the issue - told Animal Aid, 'it's off indefinitely as far we're concerned.' . However, since then, Baroness Barbara Young - former chief executive at the RSPB - has become chairperson of English Nature. Both organisations played a key role in the government's White-Headed Duck Task Force - a body whose brief from the start was to 'plan and co-ordinate the implementation of a control trial'.
Animal Aid has accused Environment Minister Michael Meacher of 'kow-towing to the lunatic element of bird-watchers' and our comments have been quoted widely in the media.
- Send a letter of protest to Environment Minister Michael Meacher and to the RSPB. Protest postcards and campaign leaflets are available from the Animal Aid office.
- Animal rights groups in Wales have set up a Ruddy Duck Task Force. If you live in Wales and would like to help with peaceful demos and events, contact the Ruddy Duck Task Force, PO Box 2, Llandysul, SA44 4EB.
- Write to your local newspaper about the ruddy duck cull - especially if you live in the West Midlands, Anglesey or Fife. If you live near to an RSPB or Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust centre, mention this as a 'local angle'.
- See the ruddy duck campaign index for more news and information.