Photo: Eugene Lacy

Canada Goose cull in Rodley causes controversy

10 September 2019

Concerns have been expressed over a cull of Canada Geese in Rodley this weekend, writes Keely Bannister.

On Saturday 7th September, a shooting cull of Canada Geese took place between 6.30am and 12pm at Calverley Bridge in Rodley.

The cull was carried out by Barry Swain who, in a letter to local residents announcing the shoot, described himself as a section 1 & 2 arms licence holder.

The letter delivered to residents alerting them to the cull. Picture copyright: Jemma Lovatt

The letter, which includes grammatical errors, explained:

“There will be a legal licence shooting off these birds from time to time early morning and we are advising you it is being done for your health and safety and legally, all authorised by the government & the general licensing law of the land and the landowners obligations and the police will be aware of the pest control activity going on.

“And legal licensed fire arms will be used to do this for a humane management for the bird’s infestation.

“WE APOLOGISE FOR ANY DISTRESS TO ANYBODY but it is a much-needed job to be done and cannot be prevented.”

The letter goes on to state that the Canada Goose is not a native species and that there wasn’t a natural predator or control to manage numbers.

A body of one of the dead geese found at Rodley Cricket Club. Picture copyright: Eugene Lacy

Jemma Lovatt, who lives at Calverley Bridge and witnessed proceedings, received the letter and posted it on social media to make others aware.

Ms Lovatt told The Dispatch that the letter caused “mass panic”:

“We got the letter yesterday which caused mass panic as it was poorly written and not from an official source. Some people thought it was a wind up – some were worried about the threat of an armed man saying he was turning up on the doorstep.

“I called the police and they confirmed he had a licence.

“It was right outside my window so I saw it all. I was very upset by it, as were other residents. ”

Ms Lovatt said Government recommendations state culling should be done in moult season where the birds cannot fly so people can get a clean shot.

Children playing football at Rodley Cricket Club feet away from the body of one of the culled geese. Copyright: Eugene Lacy

Local resident Eugene Lacy attended Rodley Cricket Club to watch his grandson play football and found the body of a dead bird only feet from where the youngsters were playing – almost a mile from where the shooting took place.

Mr Lacy told The Dispatch:

“As a local resident who is against killing wildlife for nothing, I am disgusted with whoever killed this bird and didn’t have the decency to remove the poor thing.”

Gov.uk gives guidance confirming that it is legal to “catch alive or kill, as well as take, damage or destroy the nests, or take or destroy the eggs of” Canada Geese as long as you “follow animal welfare laws and kill birds in a quick and humane manner”.

The shooters had licenses, they had permission from the farmer who owned the land and they were more than 50 feet from the highway.

According to regulations the shooters have no obligation to pick up dead or dying birds that have become injured and flown away from the scene to die. 

Mr Swain said on Facebook the next cull would be in two weeks.

The Dispatch has contacted Mr Swain for comment.

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Mary Fisher says:

I wish I lived near the shoot, I’d pick up the bodies, bring them home, skin and gut them and put them in the freezer.