Responding to Mr Justice Mitting’s judgment on the RSPB’s Ribble Gull Cull challenge, the RSPB said:
“This judgment is deeply worrying as we believe it fundamentally misinterprets the law as it relates to protecting birds.
It is important to stress that the dispute at the centre of this case is not about air safety – the RSPB fully accepts the risk exists and that the cull is necessary,
this is about how the Government can sanction the killing of an additional 1100 lesser black-backed gulls without acknowledging the damaging impact of removing almost a fifth of the breeding population of a species on a protected site.
The judge appears to condone the Government writing off part of why the Ribble Estuary is important for nature conservation without compensation measures and, as such, sets a deeply disturbing precedent for our most important sites for wildlife –
we are urgently looking at our options to appeal this judgment.”
The High Court is ruling on a legal challenge over government backing for the culling of thousands of seagulls. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is concerned that the cull is setting a dangerous precedent for bird conservation in the UK.
An RSPB legal team is asking a judge to quash the Environment Secretary's decision to sanction the cull in the Ribble Estuary on the Lancashire coast, at the request of aerospace firm BAE Systems.
BAE said a reduction in the population of lesser black-backed gulls and herring gulls was required because of fears over birds being sucked into the engines of jets taking off at the airfield at its Warton site.
Consent was given for the killing of 552 pairs of lesser black-backed gulls and for further operations to maintain the population at the reduced level for 10 years, provided the overall population was not reduced to lower than 3,348 pairs.
The RSPB said the culls threatened to undermine the conservation purposes of European directives for birds and habitats. The populations of lesser black-backed gulls were in "substantial decline" across the UK and in need of protection.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs argues the cull is both lawful and necessary because the gulls pose a threat to air safety and "human life is more important than wildlife".
BAE said the gulls "present a risk of bird strike to aircraft operating from Warton airfield" and the aim was to reduce the risk.
A family from Stockport and their dogs had a close encounter with a confused baby bird when it flew out of a bush and landed on their pet dog’s back.
Luckily, the goldfinch fledgling chose a friendly place to perch in Scooby, a rescued Greyhound-cross, who was more than happy to provide a resting place for his new feathered friend.
Paul Roberts his wife Kim and two sons, Beck, 12, and Cole 9, captured it on camera and sent the pics to the RSPB.
Richard James, a wildlife advisor for the RSPB, said: “Young birds often show very little fear; some even seem to have a death wish. Luckily, this little goldfinch didn’t have anything to worry about, but that’s not always the case.
Our advice is that if you find a baby bird in a particularly vulnerable spot, move it to a safer place as nearby as possible, otherwise, leave it where it is.”