LETTER: When to endorse the culling of cormorants

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The Independent Online
Sir: The cormorant debate is more complex than that described in Martyn Kelly's article (8 April).

The population explosion is largely made up of an inland breeding, continental sub-species rather than indigenous esturial residents. Robin Wynde, for the RSPB outlines an excessively single-minded bird protectionist case. Conservation is far wider than this.

We seek to protect the genetically unique and rapidly diminishing stocks of Atlantic salmon in the lowland rivers of southern England. Examination of cormorant faeces by colleagues on the rivers Test and Itchen catchments give ample evidence of micro-tags from threatened juvenile salmon, devoured by these voracious immigrants. These fish stocks have been reared and introduced at great expense and effort by conservationists.

Scaring birds as a means of control is ineffective and, at best, simply moves the problem to an upstream or downstream neighbour.

The RSPB are not adverse to a cull when it suits their purpose. Have they not poisoned rats, crushed gulls' eggs and shot foxes in the past?

B G Marshall


Wessex Salmon Association