Friday, 24 May 2013

A Lesser Consideration?

It has been revealed that a colony of endangered Lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus) has been subject to a culling order by English Nature (and its predecessors) since the 1970s (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/23/conservation-agency-approved-cull-endangered-birds?INTCMP=SRCH). The colony is near the Bowlands Fells in Lancashire and the original excuse for the cull was potential contamination of the local reservoir by bird droppings (a highly contentious excuse, anyhow). It has now been claimed that the real reason for the cull's approval was the location of the circa 9500 hectare Abbeystead estate, largely maintained for grouse shooting. There is a claim that Lesser black-backs sometimes consume grouse eggs (hardly remarkable as this species, like many others, is opportunistic in its feeding habitats and the grouse eggs would constitute an artificially concentrated food source). It does seem strange that English Nature appeared to ignore one of its primary purposes (i.e. conservation of endangered species) over an extended period. Perhaps they thought it more important to stay on good terms with the land-owner?

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