North West Hunt Saboteurs

Help Stop the Ruddy Duck Cull

Ruddy DuckIf you have any information on the Ruddy Duck cull please contact the NWHSA on 07960 038230 or You can also call Animal Aid on 01732 364546. Any information received wil be in strict confidence.Sentenced to death - Urgent help needed to save the Wigan’s Ruddy DuckWigan Council announced that it is committed to destroying the entire population of Ruddy Ducks at Wigan Flashes and Pennington Flash Country Park, because some have dared to breed with a close genetic relative called the white-headed duck.Why the slaughter?

It is claimed that some Ruddy Ducks are flying from Britain to Spain where they are mating with the now-endangered white-headed duck - birds who have been hunted to near extinction and have had much of their habitat destroyed. The mating of the Ruddys and their close genetic kin - the white-headed – is nature's way of ensuring the survival of the white-headed duck. But the ducklings they produce are considered 'impure' by leaders of top table conservation groups such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, English Nature and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. They won't tolerate this mixing of blood, despite opposition from a large number of their own supporters and the RSPCA. The killing of ruddy ducks is yet another example of the arrogance of some old world ‘conservationists’ who believe that they can shoot and poison their way to environmental harmony. The slaughter of the Ruddy Ducks is an insane, massively expensive exercise, which has no public support and seems designed to please only a small number of obsessives, who are interfering with nature in ways they can neither understand nor control.During trial ‘culls’, which took place between 1993 and 2002, a significant number of birds died in protracted agony. Many were shot on their nests and, according to a government report, some were shot as many as 13 times and took up to two hours to die.Even at this late stage, you can make your voice heard and help stop this insane and brutal massacre.

Contact the NWHSA to find out how you can help or download this leaflet (pdf format) and distribute where necessary

Please contact Wigan Council on 01942 244991 or send them an email (listed below) to register your opposition to the duck cull. (For background info on ruddy duck culls click here)

All the Wigan councillors emails are below.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, J.O',,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

15 February 2008
Duck cull slammed
By Annette Kelman

Marksmen have carried out a further cull of Wigan's Ruddy ducks.

The gunmen, working for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), shot a total of 24 ducks on Pearson's Flash in Poolstock early on Wednesday morning.

Paul Timpson from animal rights campaign group the North West Hunt Saboteurs, which has tried to disrupt previous culls, condemned the latest killing.

He said: "These ducks have been shot for no reason whatsoever. It is a sad state of affairs."

The cull took place even though the UK's bird shooting season ended on February 1. The shooting season ends to allow birds to breed.

But a spokeswoman for Defra said Ruddy ducks were not protected by a close season as other birds are.

She said marksmen from the Central Sciences Lab (CSL), who carried out the cull, are licensed by Natural England to undertake control work all year round.

In previous culls before Christmas, 46 ducks were shot and killed by marksmen at Pearson's Flash.

It is not known whether any ducks survived the cull.

The Defra spokeswoman said CSL will "make an assessment on whether it is appropriate to make another visit".

Mr Timpson said he had been contacted by two local residents who claimed they had come across the marksmen while walking their dog and said there had been no warning signs to inform members of the public that shooting was taking place.

He plans to write to Wigan Council to complain, adding: "I would have thought it would be a legal requirement to put warning signs up."

However the Defra spokesman said: "The safety of people is paramount and the personnel carrying out such work are highly trained. CSL staff are equipped with remote control radios and can contact control staff at all times.

"In the event that public health or safety was perceived to be at risk, control work is halted immediately.

"CSL undertake risk assessments of all sites before any control work begins. CSL staff work to Standardised Operating Procedures when undertaking control work and also have staff present on footpaths and at entrances to the site.

"The council are aware of these procedures."

The slaughter of Wigan's ruddy ducks has upset many Wigan residents as the ducks are doing no harm to the environment or other UK wildlife.

But the Spanish are worried that a small number of ruddy ducks are migrating and breeding with their indigenous white-headed duck. The NW Hunt Saboteurs has slammed the cull as "a pointless slaughter" which amounts to the "ethnic cleansing of wildlife."

Defra maintains the ruddy ducks are endangering the long-term future of the white-headed duck through cross-breeding.

Link to press article

19 November 2007
Protesters claim duck cull victory
By Annette Kelman

Animal rights protesters are claiming to have halted a second cull of Wigan's ruddy duck population.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says foggy weather stopped the shooting after only four birds were killed, but protesters trying to save the remaining 50 ducks maintain one of their supporters disrupted proceedings.

Since the first cull on October 31, NW Hunt Saboteurs activists have been patrolling the Flashes early in the morning to watch out for Defra officials.

DEFRA at Pearsons FlashGroup supporter John Barker, 60, says he saw Defra marksmen at Pearson's Flash at around 6.45am on Friday, but claims there were no signs warning the public shooting was taking place.

He said: "There was a very thick mist so I would have thought it would have been dangerous to shoot.

"There were two people on the bank who looked like they were directing operations and I saw one man with a rifle.

"I had a video camera and started trying to film but one of the men came over and put his hand over the lens and said 'You can't film this.

This is Defra work and you can't film Defra work'.

"He said they were stopping people coming to the area, but I pointed out I hadn't been stopped so how did they know other people weren't around?"

John walked round the water and saw another man with a walkie-talkie.

He said: "I heard about seven shots. Then they left. I think they were told to stop because I was getting too close to where they were shooting."

After being alerted by John, around six protesters travelled to the Flashes, but the Defra officials had already left.

Wigan's ruddy ducks are being culled over concerns small numbers are flying to Spain and mating with the native white-headed duck, endangering the long-term future of the species.

A Defra spokesman said: "Weather conditions meant only a limited period was available to conduct ruddy duck control at Pearson's Flash.

"Before shooting began the Central Science Laboratory placed a number of footpath wardens around the site to ensure shooting did not affect the safety of members of the public.

"CSL staff are equipped with remote control radios and can contact control staff at all times. In the event public health or safety is perceived to be at risk, control work is halted immediately."

Link to press article

02 November 2007
Ducks are shot despite protest
By Annette Kelman

Wigan's ruddy ducks have been slaughtered despite huge public opposition and months of campaigning to save them.

Marksmen from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) shot the ducks at dawn yesterday after the birds' fate was sealed by Wigan Council at a full council meeting the previous evening.

After hearing the cull was taking place at Pearson Flash in Poolstock, protesters travelled but arrived too late.

It is not known how many of the 80 ducks have survived the controversial culling, but angry protesters and animal welfare organisations vowed to return to Wigan flashes this morning to disrupt any further killing.

The council gave Defra permission for marksmen to take boats out onto Pearson Flash to shoot the ducks despite a public outcry, but had remained tight-lipped about when the cull would take place so people had no chance to stage a protest.

The ruddy ducks were doing no harm to wildlife or the environment in Wigan.

The only reason for the cull is that the Spanish are concerned that a very small number are migrating from England to Spain and breeding with their native white headed duck, leading to concerns they are weakening the blood line of their indigenous species.

Community Action Party Councillor Peter Franzen, who has long campaigned against the cull, was one of the protesters who rushed to the Flashes in a bid to save the ruddy ducks. He brought a claxon to encourage the birds to fly away to safety.

He said: "There is no justification for this. It is absolutely outrageous."

A spokesman for Defra said: "The reason for the cull of ruddy ducks is to conserve the white headed ducks."

Link to press article

8 October 2007
Gunmen to be unleashed on ruddy ducks
By Kristina Santus

Wigan's ruddy ducks will soon be wiped out after Council bosses "reluctantly" agreed to let the controversial cull go ahead.

Licensed operatives from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will now be allowed access on to council-owned land to start an eradication programme which has already taken place in 14 other countries across Europe.

Experts say the white-headed duck, which does not occur in this country, is now threatened due to cross-breeding with the ruddy duck outside the UK in countries such as Spain.

Defra contacted the council to ask permission for access to the borough's water bodies in order to carry out the cull to protect the endangered white-headed duck.

But the decision was delayed due to calls from councillors to the government body to supply up to date scientific evidence to support its position.

Following that review, and after consulting with anti-cull organisations, Wigan's ruling cabinet gave the nod to allow Defra access to the Flashes to control the doomed ducks.

But at a meeting at the town hall, many members declared they had reluctantly said yes.

Coun David Molyneux said: "I put the motion into the council to ask for more information about this in the first place.

"But no-one has submitted any evidence which tells us we shouldn't do it.

"We don't want to see things like this happen, but unfortunately it is a fact of life.

"It is a major problem so we have got to agree to it. Albeit reluctantly."

Martin Kimber, director of environmental services, told the cabinet he had only heard "contradictory views" from anti-cull organisations as opposed to hard scientific evidence.

He said: "Defra still believed their position to be correct after considering up to date scientific information.

"There are a number of groups who oppose the control of the ruddy duck but no strong scientific evidence has been presented by any group to contradict that of Defra.

"Having contacted those organisations and individuals referred to in the resolution passed by council, no contradictory scientific evidence has been provided, only contradictory views."

Mr Kimber told those present at the meeting that a number of organisations, including the RSPB, BirdLife International, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, were also in support of the cull.

But opponents, including Animal Aid and the Leigh Ornithological Society say they will not let the matter rest.

Andrew Tyler, director of Animal Aid, said: "It is a sick, irrational decision which has disregarded scientific information and common sense.

"The fact is that due to much warmer weather, the number of ruddy ducks going over to Spain in the winter has decreased to as little as seven or eight and is decreasing all the time.

"Also numbers of white-headed ducks in Spain have increased from 200 to 3,000.

"But if two ducks are so similar that they can provide healthy offspring, why are we interfering?

"It doesn't matter to a duck whether her ducklings are an impure species. It only matters to the fanatical birdwatchers."

Link to press article

21 March 2007

Ruddy ducks are reprieved

Wigan's doomed ruddy ducks have won a stay of execution. The planned cull of the beleaguered birds has been postponed - but only until later in the year.

Pressure has been mounting on Wigan Metro to cancel the controversial killing of the ducks and this evening (wed) they are expected to confirm the scheme has been put off until September.

Council chiefs say the cull will still go ahead but only when the bird breeding season is over.

A Metro spokesman said: "The action to control the ruddy duck is still supported for reasons set out in earlier reports. It would not be appropriate to allow access to council-owned land during the bird breeding season as this is ecologically a very sensitive time of year.

Consequently, it is proposed not to allow DEFRA access until after the bird breeding season ends in August."

The move has been welcomed by campaigners who have been fighting long and hard to halt the killing spree. They still plan to protest outside the Town Hall this evening (Wed) when the decision is endorsed during an extra-ordinary meeting, called specifically to discuss the controversy.

Paul Timpson, spokesman for the North West Hunt Saboteurs' Association (NWHSA), is determined the issue won't be being swept under the carpet in September.

He said: "I just hope that the authorities don't try and do the cull quietly in a couple of months time. If the cull does go ahead, after the birds breed, then surely that makes the issue of killing them appear even more ridiculous.

"But hopefully the postponement of the cull is a step in the right direction and we'll only stop protesting when the cull is called off permanently."

Link to press article

2 March 2007

The death knell has sounded for Wigan's Ruddy Ducks after councillors agreed to a cull despite protests.

Councillors voted in favour of the cull – without a debate – after the matter had been relegated from sixth to last on the agenda.

The cull, to protect an endangered species, will be carried out by licensed operatives from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The eradication programme, which has already taken place in 14 other European countries, is to save the White-headed Duck – not a native of Britain – threatened because of hybridisation with the Ruddy Duck in breeding areas outside the UK.

Protests outside the Town Hall were led by Community Action Party leader Peter Franzen, armed with a loud speaker – and a toy duck.

Coun Franzen urged the public to enter the council chamber to "watch the way your council votes" and lobbied each councillor entering the Town Hall to ask which way they would be voting.

CAP protesters were joined by several groups representing animal welfare and members of UKIP. But at one stage, the protest descended into farce as Coun Franzen branded UKIP racist and "a bunch of opportunists", sparking jeers and boos.

Many members of the public, hoping to attend the debate in the council chamber, were left out in the cold due to lack of space, while those who got in could have been forgiven for thinking they had stepped straight into a pantomime.

The control of the Ruddy Duck was listed as item six but was put back after councillors agreed to discuss the budget first.

Independent councillor Gary Wilkes said it was a deliberate delay to push the matter to the bottom of the agenda while Coun Franzen expressed his disgust and accused Lord Peter Smith of shying away from the debate.

He was later incensed that the item would be voted on without debate due to a 10pm guillotine on proceedings.

Before walking out of the chamber – prior to the vote being taken – Coun Franzen presented the Mayor with a petition to hold a separate meeting to discuss the cull.

Using his toy duck as a puppet, he made quacking sounds and branded the meeting "an absolute disgrace" before leaving the chamber.

Link to the press article

12th January 2007

Ruddy duck fans fight flock cull

Bird lovers in Greater Manchester have launched an appeal to save a flock of ruddy ducks from being culled.

More than 100 live on flashes (lakes) controlled by Wigan Council, but are facing death at the request of the Spanish Government.

The birds usually migrate to Spain in the winter and have been mating with rare white-headed ducks.

Environmentalists hope the ducks will be spared, as the warmer winter weather has encouraged them to stay in Wigan.

A nationwide cull of ruddy ducks was ordered by the British Government in 2003 after complaints from Spain.

Conservationists there feared the indigenous duck was facing extinction as hybrid birds began to dominate.

International diplomacy

Hundreds of ruddy ducks have been shot since the cull was ordered.

Wigan council agreed to let government officers onto Pearson's Flash to shoot the ducks this winter.

But Judith Smith, who is involved with the Greater Manchester Bird Recording Group, believes it is time to review the cull.

She said: "The effects of global warming has resulted in ruddy ducks staying closer to their breeding grounds.

"The white-headed duck population in Spain has recovered substantially from a reported 22 in 1977 to around 5,000.

"They now have plenty of choices for mates, and are unlikely to select ruddy ducks even if they were available."

Serious threat

Ms Smith has been backed by opposition councillor Peter Franzen, who tried to submit a motion suggesting the ducks were falling victim to international diplomacy.

But council legal officers ruled that the motion was not admissible and the authority approved the cull.

The cull is also backed by the RSPB, who said: "While it is sad, such measures are necessary.

"We are pleased that the European Commission recognises the serious threat posed to the white-headed duck through hybridisation with ruddy ducks."

Ruddy ducks are common in their native America.

They were brought to Britain in the 1930s for captive wildfowl collections, but some escaped and bred.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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