2008-01-14 08:56:48 UTC
Robert Hill found this dead widgeon covered in pellet wounds during a
walk at Langstone Harbour
A bird charity has provoked outrage for letting ducks and geese be
shot on a nature reserve.
The RSPB hands out shooting licences on its land at Langstone Harbour
where wildfowlers can kill up to 10 birds a day for sport.
The shooting has been allowed for years, but few people visiting the
harbour reserve were aware of it. It has been blown into the open
because a pellet-riddled duck carcass was found by a walker.
The charity has defended its decision, saying shoots are very
carefully monitored and the alternative would be to have illegal
poachers causing havoc.
But wildlife lovers say it is against what the RSPB stands for. Barry
Hugill, from the League Against Cruel Sports, said: 'I find it
exceedingly distasteful. It's a wildlife sanctuary. How on earth can
it be a sanctuary if someone is going to come and kill the birds that
Keen twitcher and conservationist Robert Hill, who discovered a dead
widgeon duck covered in pellet wounds, is horrified.
There are signs up in Langstone Harbour saying wildfowling takes
place, but he said it had never been widely announced.
There is no mention of the shooting licences on the RSPB's website.
The 43-year-old, of Shaftesbury Avenue, Waterlooville, said: 'I don't
think it's acceptable. It's a blood sport. I can't see any
justification for it.
'No-one owns wildlife. These poor animals come in for sanctuary and
end up getting blown out of the air.'
Local wildfowling group, the Langstone & District Wildfowlers &
Conservation Association, has had shooting rights on the land since
1979 and wildfowling has taken place in the harbour since the 1600s.
They are allowed to shoot between September and January on two of five
islands in Langstone Harbour, which can be accessed by walking across
the mudflats, and on saltmarshes at the northeast of Farlington
At the end of each month they have to report every bird shot to the
RSPB so bird levels can be monitored.
Chris Cockburn, RSPB warden forLangstone harbour, said: 'If
wildfowling was banned the only way we could make it work would be by
'The reality is that would be very difficult whereas by licensing it
we are controlling the amount of shooting that can occur. Poaching
would be disastrous.'
He said one of the rules is that wildfowlers must always have a dog
with them, which would usually collect up any dead birds.
Nick Horten, from the wildfowlers association, said the group carried
out conservation work in the area and was extremely careful about the
types of birds they shoot.
All members are vetted by the police and must train for a year before
they are allowed to shoot alone.
'We have been a tenant of the RSPB which is the foremost bird
conservation group for 30 years and if they had the slightest concern
about the way we conduct ourselves they would have thrown us off years
ago,' he said.
The full article contains 506 words and appears in NS-Havant &
Waterlooville newspaper.Last Updated: 11 January 2008 10:23 AM