Where the wintry way is safe again for wild geese

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The Independent Online
Geese heading east over Essex without fear of the gun. A fortnight's ban on shooting wildfowl was imposed yesterday by the Department of the Environment to help safeguard birds weakened or unable to feed properly because of recent freezing temperatures.

But a respite from the three-week long freeze is expected this weekend. The Meteorological Office said that by early next week temperatures would be several degrees higher in the South-east, the last part of Britain still gripped by freezing conditions, as the frozen ground slowly thaws.

However, the head of the National Meteorological Centre, Ewen McCallum, warned: "We cannot guarantee that the cold weather will not come back - we are not even halfway through the winter."

Police repeated warnings against people attempting to rescue animals in hazardous conditions after a woman died yesterday trying to save a friend's dog which ran on to the frozen River Thames. Janet Norman, 52, of Reading, followed, but the ice cracked and she fell through. The dog returned to the bank.