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Bird-scaring campaign 'inappropriate'

PUBLISHED: 06:18 14 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

A WILDLIFE group is to press a Government department to withdraw backing for a fishing club's "inappropriate" bird-scaring campaign.

Tempers have been running high at Loom Pit Lake, Levington, where a colony of cormorants has been blamed for depletion of fishstocks, including rainbow trout.

A WILDLIFE group is to press a Government department to withdraw backing for a fishing club's "inappropriate" bird-scaring campaign.

Tempers have been running high at Loom Pit Lake, Levington, where a colony of cormorants has been blamed for depletion of fishstocks, including rainbow trout.

Suffolk Fly Fishers, the club which leases the lake from the landowner, Trinity College, Cambridge, failed in a bid to obtain a special licence to shoot the birds.

However, it was given advice by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that a campaign of bird-caring would be lawful.

For the past week, mainly at dusk, blank shotgun cartridges have been fired and fireworks let off.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust officials have been monitoring the scaring tactics being used and are worried that thousands of other birds as well as the cormorants are being disturbed. Now the trust wants Defra to intervene.

Mick Wright, local wildlife trust warden, said: "The scaring campaign is inappropriate at this site because it is right next to the Orwell Estuary, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area under European law."

Thousands of birds, including redshank and dunlin, used the estuary for feeding and were being frightened away from the area near the lake – together with ducks, geese and swans.

Trees around the lake were also being used for roosting by rare little egrets and hopes that they would breed were dwindling, Mr Wright said.

Julian Roughton, wildlife trust director, said the dispute was causing a great deal of bad feeling and "antagonism" and there were fears for the future of the cormorant colony - the only breeding colony of the birds in Suffolk.

"We are also worried that little egrets, rare birds that are on the verge of breeding at the lake, will be frightened away," he added.

Ian Blinkworth, vice-chairman of Suffolk Fly Fishers, said he personally doubted whether the scaring campaign would have the required effect - because birds soon got used to temporary disturbances - but it was important to show members that action was being taken.

"It is the only thing we are allowed to do to try to protect our fish stocks," he said.

Mr Blinkworth said the scaring programme would stop soon - before the wild bird breeding season began.


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