Yesterday, we announced that, despite a public promise that they would stop killing mallard ducks that would naturally make their homes in UK wetlands, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust continue to apply for licences to kill the birds. In a statement issued today, the WWT have implied that birds will be killed only if it is in the individual’s best interest, saying: “we want to make sure we can legally reduce suffering if a bird is injured or diseased”. But there is no criminal offence for killing wild birds that are suffering to the extent that humane euthanasia is the only solution. In fact, the killing of wild birds for this purpose is exempted under s.4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In short, if the WWT was really only shooting birds in order to stop their incurable suffering, no licence would be required.
In fact, all documentation provided to CAPS, with the exemption of one licence to kill an unlimited number of Canada Geese at the WWT’s London site, has shown that licences are not issued so that the WWT can prevent wild birds from suffering, but so that the WWT can stop wild birds from interfering with their captive collections. One disturbing passage from a report discussing an application from the Arundel Wetlands Centre suggested that birds such as mallard ducks are simply too common to be seen at the reserves, despite the fact that they would naturally make their home there. The passage states “large populations of mallards detract from Arundel Wetland Centre’s reputation as a high quality manager of captive birds”. It should be remembered that the captive birds are, in the main, held on WWT sites by virtue of having had one half of one wing amputated at just a few days old.
Interestingly, the statement that the WWT have publicised today (and which is dated the 22nd August 2013), differs from the statement that the charity issued immediately following the CAPS exposé on the 29th July 2013. In the aftermath of the national news article on the shooting of native birds, the WWT said:
“The Sunday Express is correct in reporting that we have managed out any need to shoot feral ducks even as a last resort and we’re pleased to say they are not shot on our land”.
In this statement, there was no mention whatsoever of the shooting of injured birds to end suffering.
In the statement highlighted by the WWT today, an altered version of the same paragraph appears with an extra sentence on injured birds tagged onto the end to read:
“We have managed out any need to shoot feral ducks even as a last resort and we’re pleased to say they are not shot on our land. We will always need licences to stop injured or sick wild birds from unnecessary suffering”. [Our emphasis shows added section]
In addition, another part of the statement has been altered in order to include mention of shooting injured birds. The original statement issued in the days following the exposé at the end of July 2013 included the paragraph:
“Very rarely, where we have particular problems with individual birds that are having a disproportionate impact on wild or captive birds, we have to consider controlling them by shooting. This is only ever used as a last resort. This may be because an individual gull has learnt to search out particular nests and is capable of serious and highly disproportionate impact, or because they are clearly showing signs of infection and are potentially sources of disease spread in wild and captive populations”.
The altered statement highlighted by the WWT today emphasises the apparent concern for injured birds, and reads:
”Very rarely, where we have particular problems with individual birds that are clearly suffering through injury or illness, or are having a disproportionate impact on wild or captive birds, we have to consider controlling them by shooting. This is only ever used as a last resort. This may be because an individual gull has learnt to search out particular nests and is capable of serious and highly disproportionate impact, or because it is clearly showing signs of infection and is a potential source of disease, or it’s injured in some way and obviously suffering and there is no other option left”. [Our emphasis shows added sections]
It is clear that the WWT are keen to imply that the killing of wild birds is carried out for the animals’ own good and this is demonstrated by the deliberate alterations made to statements made since the shooting practices were exposed last year. However, what is clear form documentation supplied to CAPS by the relevant authorities is that these licences have not been issued in order to allow the WWT to end the suffering of wild birds, but to protect their own captive animals from interference by birds that would naturally make their homes in UK wetlands.
The most effective way to end the suffering of both captive and wild birds at the hands of UK zoos is to work to see an end to the cruel practice of pinioning altogether. If you have not yet learned about the ongoing Fight for Flight campaign, please do so now by visiting the main campaign page or READ the full report, released in March 2013.
If you are already aware of the campaign and agree that no animal should have a limb amputated simply so zoo visitors can get close to them, please take one or more of the actions below. Please do not delay. Together we can end this cruelty.
SIGN the petition
WRITE to your MP to ask that they support the call to ban pinioning
Click the link and enter your postcode to find out who your MP is. Write to them to ask them to support this important campaign.
DONATE to the campaign today!
Your donation today will help us to campaign at local and national levels to put an end to this cruelty.
GET INVOLVED in peaceful demonstrations
Got a zoo near you? Get in touch with us to receive free campaigning literature to use on information stalls or demonstrations. We can help you organise your demo – just let us know if you need advice or help.
CONTACT your local zoo to find out if they pinion birds
Pinioning is widespread but rarely talked about by the zoo industry. Get in touch with your local zoo to find out if they pinion birds. Ask them how many birds are subjected to this practice and let us know what you find out. A full list of zoos in England can be found here.
BOYCOTT nature reserves, parks or other outdoor centres that hold captive wildlife
Some zoos promote themselves as nature reserves or other types of outdoor centre. If you are unsure whether a reserve or centre that you would like to visit holds captive animals, call ahead and find out. Let them know why you won’t be visiting if they do hold captive wildlife.