THE Lake District is becoming the focus of high-profile nationwide attention - much of it outrage - in the wake of plans to cull 200 Canada geese on Windermere.
Rock star Brian May, famous birdwatcher and comedian Bill Oddie and the RSPCA are the latest to oppose the Lake District National Park Authority’s proposal, due to be carried out in the spring.
Those who favour the cull argue that the non-native birds eat landowners’ crops and their droppings damage Windermere’s water quality. However, opponents counter that the real cause of the pollution is diluted sewage, which is allowed to overflow into the lake.
Queen guitarist Mr May has a doctorate in astro physics, yet he does not focus on this scientific element of the argument.
Rather he chooses to defend the geese as ‘sentient creatures’, arguing that they are ‘worthy of respect’. Their immigrant status is no excuse for killing them, he says.
Cull objectors like the Save Windermere Canada Geese Facebook group do challenge the scientific basis for the cull.
They say there is plenty of proof that Canada geese ‘don’t cause massive-scale pollution’ in England’s longest lake.
If this is the case, the LDNPA should agree to examine such evidence.
Indeed, national park officials should heed very carefully all the arguments being mounted against the cull plan. In particular, the authority should liaise with Britain’s leading animal welfare charity, the RSPCA.
The organisation has raised the issue of the Windermere geese with Lord Taylor, the government minister repsonsible for animal welfare, but it is unclear what authority the minister has if he decides to oppose the cull.
However, he must feel in a difficult position as a member of the administration that ordered a pilot badger cull to prevent the spread of bovine TB.
The RSPCA says if the geese cull is to go ahead it ‘must be done legally, under licence and using humane methods’.
The LDNPA faces a thankless task but must be prepared to engage with the charity to ensure this is what happens if they decide to carry out their plan.