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Posted 3 November 1998
Animal Aid staged a protest, outside the AGM of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) on October 5, against the Society's active support for a mass cull of ruddy ducks.
Armed with duck whistles and holding aloft large colour photos of the target, our demo attracted unusually wide media attention. We were featured prominently on BBC Television's evening news, Radio 4's Today programme, BBC radio news bulletins throughout the day, Sky TV news (again, throughout the day) as well as regional media. There was also photo coverage in The Observer (see pic) and Sunday Telegraph.
The media interest demonstrates the level of amazement and public concern at the RSPB-supported scheme. The rationale behind the cull is that ruddy ducks, introduced to Britain from North America, have bred and spread to Spain where they are now mating with the endangered white-headed duck. The result of the pairing is what the RSPB calls an 'impure hybrid'. In other words, ruddy ducks are to be all but wiped out in the UK (there are around 3,300) in the name of blood purity.
Animal Aid argues that if ruddy and white headed ducks want to mate then that is no concern of ours. They must be essentially the same species otherwise they could not produce healthy offspring. Furthermore, the white-headed duck is rare because it has been hunted and its habitat destroyed by people. The solution is not to kill thousands more birds.
Trial shootings have already taken place in Anglesey, Avon and the East Midlands, resulting in a sizeable percentage of birds dying in protracted agony. One took 119 minutes to die. Others were wounded and could not be retrieved.
We have learnt that a further trial cull - probably lasting two years - is likely to start next spring in the West Midlands. The RSPB and the other pro-cull 'conservation' bodies on the Ruddy Duck Working Group are feeling under severe pressure because of opposition to their plans. We must press hard with our campaign.
Find out more about the ruddy duck campaign.