Brian May condemns Windermere geese cull


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The Independent Online

Queen guitarist Brian May today announced his opposition to the killing of 200 Canada geese in the Lake District.

May, whose organisation, Save Me, campaigns for better treatment of animals, spoke out strongly against plans for a cull of the birds on Lake Windermere in Cumbria.

"The proposed cull of Canada geese in Windermere is the latest in a string of bad decisions to perceived problems relating to wild animals," he said.

"The current climate of ignorance leads many people in authority, responding to the first complaint about an inconvenience or a loss in income, to reach for the gun.

"There is no need for me to comment about the multiple trumped-up bits of supposed scientific evidence offered to support this very ill-considered decision."

The Windermere Geese Management Group, made up of representatives from leading conservation organisations, landowners and scientific bodies, recently looked at the alleged damage being caused by Canada geese, which are a non-native species of bird on Windermere and other lakes such as Coniston and Grasmere.

A meeting of the body voted unanimously in favour of exploring the possibility of a controlled cull of around 200 Canada geese this spring.

There are estimated to be around 1,200 Canada geese on Windermere and it is argued the cull would improve the water quality of the lake, help with land management, address concerns about the impact on farming and protect tourist activities.

It is claimed the birds are responsible for polluting the lake with phosphates in their droppings and causing damage through grazing.

But animal charities say fertiliser run-off from local farms, sewage and detergents and dishwasher tablets from local households are all major contributors.

May added: "This decision needs to be reversed, but not just because of the lack of scientific justification. There is a bigger picture. We have to start realising that all sentient creatures are worthy of respect.

"Every animal has a life. Every creature matters.

"The order for this cull must be rescinded now, and some proper thought given to what action is needed, if any."

However, Windermere ranger Steve Tatlock said: "We understand that this is an emotive issue.

"If a cull does take place it will be carried out to the highest possible professional standards.

"We will endeavour to cause as little inconvenience as possible to residents, visitors, and lake users.

"We are instigating this project - with our partners - with the aim of improving the quality of Windermere's waters and surrounding environment."