TOURISTS are being urged to boycott the Lake District after it was announced plans to shoot Canada geese on Windermere will go ahead.
Campaigners say they are ‘sickened’ that the Windermere Geese Management Group (WGMG) is proceeding with the cull, even though nearly 3,000 protestors signed a petition against it.
National charity Animal Aid, which has around 20,000 members, and other groups, said it would now boycott Cumbria and urge others to do the same.
However, Cumbria Tourism managing director, Ian Stephens, said the WGMG had ‘taken account’ of the interests of the tourism industry so it supported the cull.
Animal Aid head of campaigns, Kate Fowler, said: “This is a hard line for us, we don’t like doing this but we have submitted questions to the Lake District National Park Authority to get answers and they haven’t answered them. I’m not convinced this cull is legal.”
Ms Fowler said people were already cancelling trips to Cumbria in light of the decision.
“I planned to come to the Lake District for a spring holiday, as did one of our wildlife campaigners, but neither of us will be coming,” she said.
“We will be urging people to reconsider visiting the Lake District. It’s sad, because it’s a beautiful area, but if people can’t answer our questions and justify what they’re doing, we don’t have a choice.”
Campaigners, including Queen guitarist and animal rights activist Brian May, argued there was no scientific evidence to support the cull - something WGMG admitted.
Kathy Musker from Respect for Wildlife said: “We will be asking our supporters to boycott the Lake District.
“This unpopular decision is bringing forth comments from people around the world that they will boycott the area. It is a shameful and barbaric action and tourism will suffer.”
Petition organiser Neil Ryding said the decision was ‘awful news’, adding: “I am sickened that these creatures are going to be slaughtered.
“People on this petition live locally and internationally and I know so many people will be put off visiting this area.”
And Steph Baxter, from the Canada Geese Conservation Society, said the ‘cruel and pointless slaughter goes against the wishes of thousands of people’.
WGMG, made up of organisations and landowners including the Lake District National Park Authority, said the cull was necessary to tackle the ‘negative effects’ of the birds on the economy and environment.
It said this included damage to habitats, displacement of native species, farm grazing and crop land being spoiled, pollution of land and water and public health concerns.
Campaigners are staging a demonstration at Bowness Bay at 12pm on Saturday.
The petition is also being kept open.