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Bird scaring campaign halted

PUBLISHED: 05:28 21 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:18 24 February 2010

A BIRD scaring campaign aimed at reducing the number of cormorants at a fishing lake is to cease – to the relief of conservationists.

However, fishing club officials will meet conservation advisers next month to try to find a long term solution to a dispute which has led to tempers running high.

A BIRD scaring campaign aimed at reducing the number of cormorants at a fishing lake is to cease – to the relief of conservationists.

However, fishing club officials will meet conservation advisers next month to try to find a long term solution to a dispute which has led to tempers running high.

An increasing number of cormorants have been roosting in the trees surrounding the picturesque Loom Pit Lake, Levington, leased by Suffolk Fly Fishers for its 110 members.

The club stocks the lake with fish, including rainbow trout, and partly blames the cormorants for losses.

An application to shoot some of the birds was rejected by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the advice of English Nature, the Government's wildlife adviser.

However, the club was told it had a legal right to carry out a scaring campaign – as long as it did not intrude into the bird-nesting season.

Members of the club have been using blank shotgun cartridges and fireworks to try to scare away some of the cormorants.

The Suffolk Wildlife Trust has accused the club of pursuing “inappropriate” activity immediately beside the Orwell Estuary, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its importance to birds.

The trust also wants to protect the only cormorant colony in Suffolk, together with birds such as little egrets which also roost at Loom Pit Lake.

There are doubts on both sides over the effectiveness of the scaring campaign because most birds soon get used to temporary disturbances.

Iain Blinkworth, the club's vice-chairman, announced yesterday that the scaring campaign was to be halted.

“There will be no more disruption after the weekend as, according to records of the last two years, birds have been seen to be nest-building, if nor sitting, in the last week of February,” he said.

Mr Blinkworth said the lake was annually stocked with rainbow trout at a cost of about £16,000 and the club wanted to protect this investment.

He said it was unlikely the club would accept an offer from English Nature for financial support to help offset the cost of fish losses in exchange for tolerance of the cormorants as this would set an unwelcome precedent.

Mick Wright, local wildlife trust warden, welcomed the end of the scaring campaign and said he was hoping that there would be no lasting impact on bird populations.

“They got permission to scare the cormorants but ended up scaring everything else as well,” he added.

david.green@eadt.co.uk


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