Fishing club's cull

By David GreenA PROFESSIONAL conservationist has been accused of being a “pain in the neck” over his attitude to a club's efforts to control numbers of fish-eating cormorants.

By David Green

A PROFESSIONAL conservationist has been accused of being a “pain in the neck” over his attitude to a club's efforts to control numbers of fish-eating cormorants.

But Mick Wright, a Suffolk Wildlife Trust warden and a council member of the Suffolk Ornithologist Group, said he was just expressing his considered opinion based on known information.

Controversy involving the wildlife trust and the Suffolk Flyfishers club first broke out two years ago over attempts by the anglers to scare some of the birds away from Loompit Lake in Trimley, near Felixstowe.

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Mr Wright was involved in bitter exchanges with the club, which was granted a licence earlier this year to shoot up to 12 of the birds at the Government-designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Now an article by Mr Wright in the magazine of the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group has upset the fishing club, a spokesman for which has accused the conservationist of being a “pain in the neck”.

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In the article, which argued that the general culling of cormorants in various parts of the world was “senseless slaughter and appeasement for the fishermen”, Mr Wright fired another volley at the club.

He wrote: “The Suffolk Flyfishers' proposal to shoot cormorants is outrageous to birders of Suffolk and would be unforgivable should it occur.”

It continued: “These birds, without a doubt, should be left alone when in their natural haunts and it is for the fishermen to find alternative, non-lethal means to sustain and protect their sport.

“Just because the cormorants are present at the lake in large numbers the fishermen jump to the wrong conclusions and perceive them to be a problem and responsible for fish losses.

“In fact, the losses at Loompit Lake are minimal, especially when compared to inland sites that have been stocked with a variety of course fish.”

Mr Wright claimed the Suffolk Flyfishers club had problems in managing the lake and lack of oxygen sometimes led to hundreds of dead fish floating on the surface.

But Iain Blinkworth, club spokesman, said fish loss to cormorants at Loompit Lake was significant and warranted action to control numbers.

He added: “Mr Wright is a pain in the neck. He has not even bothered to check his facts with us and is an example of those conservationists who do not have a balanced view of life.”

Mr Blinkworth said although a licence to cull had been applied for, permission had been granted for the shooting of only 12 birds out of a winter colony of at least 180.

But as a result of the licence conditions, including shooting being limited to a small area at a certain time of the year, no birds had actually been shot.

Mr Blinkworth added that his wife Janet, a member of the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group, had decided not to renew her membership because of the magazine article.

Mr Wright said it was not a personal issue. “I am quoting factual information. The lake is home to the county's only breeding colony of cormorants, so it is only natural that the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and individuals are interested in its future,” he added.

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