Animal Aid

GOVERNMENT TO SLAUGHTER THOUSANDS OF DUCKS TO APPEASE ANORAK BIRD WATCHERS

Posted 1 February 1999

Animal Aid today accused Environment Minister Michael Meacher of kow-towing to the lunatic element of bird-watchers when he announced a 'trial cull' of ruddy ducks is to start in the Spring. The national campaign group has fought the plan for more than two years and, as a result of a series of public protests, succeeded in forcing the DoE to cancel a major cull that was planned for April 1997.

The ruddy ducks are to be killed because some of them are allegedly flying to Spain where they are mating with the white headed duck and producing a 'genetically impure' hybrid.

Said Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

"The bird watching anoraks, who run reactionary conservation bodies such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, won't tolerate this mixing of blood. They object not only because they are offended by the idea of genetic impurity but because it makes it more difficult to compile the lists of birds seen through their binoculars."

The RSPB and other-like minded bodies were appointed last July by Michael Meacher to the White Headed Duck Task Force. This body had no welfare representation on it, not even from a moderate organisation such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals. That there would be a cull of ruddy ducks was already decided when the Task Force was appointed.

Animal Aid today accuses Meacher and his panel of biased 'experts' of ignoring the science and ignoring the appalling welfare consequences of the cull.

The ruddy and white headed ducks are close genetic kin - which is why they are able to produce healthy offspring. Furthermore, the white headed duck has been brought to the point of extinction because it has been mercilessly hunted in Spain and its habitat destroyed.

Mating with the robust ruddy duck, says Tyler, is the white headed duck's means of survival.

"We should leave them to it and not compound our near-destruction of one species with the destruction of another."

According to the DoE's own data, previous trial culls, in 1993 and 1994, resulted in a sizeable proportion of birds dying in protracted agony - whether killed by shotgun or rifle. One bird took 119 minutes to die. Another was shot 13 times and was still alive.

Animal Aid believes that conservation should be about protecting habitat, not killing Animals in the name of blood purity. It is especially sick that so-called bird lovers, such as those who run the RSPB, should be promoting a bird cull.

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