I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised that the hatred of one species against another appears to have no borders.
It now appears that two Birmingham councillors in the south of the city, Habib Ur Rehman and Martin Straker Welds have suggested a potential cull of Canada geese at Swanshurst Park in Moseley. Cllr Rehman claims in newspaper and television reports that he was contacted by people who had had their children “attacked” and “chased” by the geese in the park.
An ITV news camera crew appeared to follow them onto the park, where the alleged complainant constituents were conspicuous by their absence. It was also apparent in the feature that no geese were attacking anyone during filming, and that in the vox pop in the park asking people of their thoughts, none were in favour of any cull. We have of course been here before in Sandwell with similar “fake news” stories.
At the same time , Rehman also appears to have hit out at the geese by going to his contacts in Trinity Mirror, where The Sunday Mercury ran a story, which later appeared online as a Birmingham Mail piece entitled “ALL HELL BREAKS GOOSE”.
Let’s firstly “take a gander” at the Sunday Mercury/Birmingham Mail article, which features Rehman.
The claims made about the geese accuse them of “taking over” the park making it “a no -go area”. It goes on to claim that the birds had “taken over almost every inch of the once green space” .
An unnamed resident is given prominent quoted statements as though they are fact such as “I used to take my kids over the park, I couldn’t do it now.”
Councillor Rehman chips in with his own strokes commenting that “the geese are scaring children. I would support a limited cull.”
It appears the two councillors did not bother to brief their officers that they were going to the press, leaving them on a very sticky wicket, as when the newspaper contacted the council for comment they made it clear that “we are not aware of any complaints” . They have thus acted in a rather unprofessional manner by shouting out in the press whilst withdrawing themselves from the field of play, and in leaving parks officers to field the delivery of bouncers by irate animal and bird lovers who have now contacted the council asking for clarification of what is going on.
One might question the legitimacy of their complainant constituents claims, given that it appears that they have not themselves come forward with any direct evidence of children being harmed or anything remotely resembling an “attack” by a goose.
To the contrary there are many very recent public Facebook posts showing young children feeding and interacting with the birds at the park on social media, without showing any fear or incident that “resembles a scene from Hitchcock’s “The Birds” as the paper suggests, and also rubbishing the claims by the faceless “resident”, which shows that the park is very much open and attracts children and families who are not affected by any Canada geese.
Nor does there appear to be much of a talking point, up to the date of broadcast/print run of “the goose attack” in the local Sparkhill neighbourhood community.
I do find it both surprising and disappointing that a title such as The Sunday Mercury and Birmingham Mail, which has an unrivalled local investigative approach has chosen to print such an inaccurate and distorted view of hatred, all based it appears on the words of one man and a mystery “local resident”. I say “Disappointed” because I have had past experience of talking to Journalists of the calibre of Tony Larner and Caroline Wheeler who have written accurate and informed articles dealing with animal/wildlife cruelty. This is therefore not usually a “fake news” newspaper.
Mike Lockley is known for his tongue in cheek style which should not be taken too seriously, and I can quite imagine him chortling to himself that two grown men as elected representatives believe that this is the main issue of the day in the area that they represent. But the sub headline is still misleading and inaccurate ; there are not “HUNDREDS of geese” in this park as the online article claims, with the emphasis on the capitalised “HUNDREDS” , and this is picked up and rounded down to “over 100” in the main article. I am also somewhat suspicious of the photograph and the appearance of whole slices of bread which appear to have attracted a group of geese presented in a framed narrow shot which resembles a Liberal Democrat by- election victory. Pan out and you would not see “hundreds” of geese, but a couple of dozen. They are not covering almost every inch of this large open space, which has retained a great deal of greenness, especially as we are still barely out of Winter.
The opinions expressed by Neil Elkes, the Mail’s political correspondent- comments straight out of the Josef Goebbels school of journalism are a different matter entirely. This is not the first time that this “journalist” has gone on an anti- goose rant in a story, where his own personal opinions and hatred of this species appear to cloud his objectivity in reporting the facts of the case. Note the following choice of diction in this article from 2012, which he weaves into the “story” to present a prejudiced view of this one species. “Canada goose menace” as the headline”. This is anchored by “ANGRY FLOCK” , “mobbed and pecked”, “filthy Canada geese”, “nuisance geese” etc…
I have asked the questions in blue below, which he should have asked, or anyone else would ask if they had an open opinion. But that is not Mr Elkes intention with this one sided piece.
Though he may be entitled to his personal views, it is clear that his latest “opinion” is not one founded on facts. He claims
“Not only do they strip the grass away and deter other wildlife, but they are a major health hazard. Taking a child for a walk in beauty spots like Swanhurst Park in Springfield, Sutton Park or Sandwell Valley is a huge health risk.”
What “major health hazard” has he identified and what evidence can he produce of a single person ever affected by health issues having come into contact with Canada geese in these three named areas? What statistics does he have which confirms any correlation between geese being a “major health hazard”, or that they “deter other wildlife”?
He then makes the statement that these parks are unsafe to visit in that in their current state it is “a huge health risk” to do so. This appears to suggest that the two councils do not take human health risks seriously, or that they have not already carried out a risk assessment and found there to be a low health risk associated with the geese. I am not aware for example that these two local authorities have ever felt the need to close these locations to human visitors due to geese “taking over”.
It is apparent that previously Birmingham City Council did have an issue at Sutton Park when they released cows to roam freely in the park. It is quite apparent that the source of infection of E coli in Sutton Park in 2013 came from these unnatural animals and their faeces AND NOT ANY WILD CANADA GEESE.
Farm animals and direct contact with them are a risk to human health, and recently pregnant women were warned not to have any contact with sheep.
Public Health England guidance on this issue can be found HERE.
Elkes’s rant appears a minority view, usually one associated with that of the male drama queen whose own self importance, always expressed through his own offspring’s or grandchild’s apparent hypothetical vulnerability is both self imagined and delusional to the point of insane OCD. Pity a child that will never connect with nature because of his father or mother’s coprophobia or fear of animals or birds that they themselves pass on to their unfortunate creations. Pity the child that believes that every animal is “a health risk” and that killing them is an easy answer. Pity the child that declares “war” on animals because he doesn’t understand them or care about anything other than his own selfish egocentric genes and their survival , and when they in turn go on to procreate, the only thing that matters is the overblown expression of wanting to be seen as a good parent “unspoiled” by nature and “dirty” animals. I pity those children and the adults they will become.
Of course not everyone likes children, and certainly not other peoples. Personally I don’t like them on account of the screeching incoherent noises they make followed by bouts of selfish tantrum squealing when their parents refuse them a demand. It is not uncommon in “beauty spots” to see parents pulling down their preciouses trousers and pants exposing genitalia and bare buttocks, with the brat routinely encouraged to urinate in the open air with soiled parts showing, and anyone who dares to look on aghast in embarrassment is almost silently accused of being a paedophile for showing disgust. A few years later and we get the obese lardarses evolve into fast food chain guzzling machines scoffing down the freshly served trade waste of back street abortionists dished up in cardboard and polystyrene coffins from the “drive thru”. From their podgy fingers, the garbage is served down the cavernous holes in their rotund faces, and I’m Not “lovin it” as I stroll through the open space trying to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, but all I see around me is human greed and gluttony expectorating the body parts of dead animals and birds cooked in batter.
Used nappies are dumped, snotty rags tossed, litter is thrown, half eaten food discarded with packaging…. I could go on about these “huge health risks” but I’m not desperately trying to be a “shock journ” runt of the litter NUJ card holder in the absent guise of George Tyndale.
In order to check the voracity of the claims of goose numbers in this park, I have paid a recent visit there, which confirms the numbers of “hundreds” of geese as totally false. A count of exactly 100 was recorded.
The number of geese in the park appears to have also been recently counted by one of the city council’s rangers, which absolutely rubbishes the false numbers reported in the Birmingham Mail article.
Swanshurst Park is a park I am already familiar with, and have been involved in rescuing injured swans there in the past (fishing line). This activity is one which does require frequent attention across many of the Birmingham Parks from wildfowl rescue groups and the RSPCA. It has also previously been reported that the council itself was responsible for a massive fish die off as a result of “inadvertently” leaving open a sluice gate, so lets spare us lectures about water quality and water management please! Maintenance of parks is something that the councillors nor the reporters even appear to raise. On my visit however I saw only clean paths, not covered in any excrement at all. Coloured bulbs are also starting to sprout from the ground.
A solitary attempt at a “no feeding” sign was pinned to a tree, but in truth it didn’t appear as though on a sunny Saturday afternoon that the ground had been covered in bread or chapattis for the birds.
Indeed the geese themselves , as I already know from personal experience with this species of over 20 years, were spending their time minding their own business, not attacking anyone, including the parents with young children that were giving them food.
The real news story in Birmingham affecting children under threat is that it is still failing to protect its children in care with its longstanding “inadequate” reputation. The geese are not to blame for this, as they are not to blame for religious extremism in so called “Trojan horse” schools- fuelled by liberal City Council politicians in politically correct denial , child grooming sex gangs, terrorist plots hatched from bedrooms and travel excursions planned to learn violent acts in a rogue state, gun and drug gang violence spilling out of control onto the streets in riot, speeding cars, or even genital mutilation based on insane “religious” or “cultural” practices that are pure and utter backward thinking EVIL.
Perhaps Cllr Rehman and the rest of his colleagues for that matter when he states “the safety of the children is paramount” in the ITV news clip should be looking at failings within Birmingham’s Governance, its society and in its community before scapegoating one species for damnation.
The geese are not planting IEDs down Wake Green Road in their turds, which can be cleaned up by the City council’s parks department if they so wish, or if the “problem” is even one which warrants it. They are also not shitting in the councils swimming baths either like children.
The other major factor not linked to this story but one that I am going to and which is relevant is that councillors in this City next year in 2018 face a “limited cull” of their own with the aptly named “boundary commission”, having reduced their number from the current 120 to 101 in redrawn wards.
“The Commission carried out an electoral review of Birmingham City Council following Lord Kerslake’s report on the governance and organisational capabilities of Birmingham City Council. The report recommended that an electoral review be conducted ‘to help the council produce an effective model of representative governance.’ “
In other words there were TOO MANY councillors in Birmingham not doing enough for value for money, and there are currently squatting in the council chamber , more Birmingham councillors than there are Canada geese in Swanshurst park.
Swanshurst Park will now come under the Northern boundary of the new “Billesley” ward according to the redrawn boundary map, where it will now be represented by just 2 councillors.
Is the partnership of Rehman/Straker Welds I wonder one which is seeking reselection for the newly redrawn particular area? I use cricketing analogies as both men would appear to take more than a passing interest in the local cricket scene, and though there appears no evidence of any birdies having the runs on any of the nearby cricket grounds, it is something which crossed my mind, especially seeing Councillor Rehman’s declared members interests in the Warwickshire County Cricket Club as chair of the “Safety advisory group” of that club, expressed somewhat cryptically in his declaration of members interest .
I am not alleging any wrongdoing on the part of the good councillor Rehman, and nor am I suggesting that he is a complete tosser either, but I would however like to draw the readers attention to his links, just in case we suddenly see a flurry of false appeals from white jumpered enthusiasts trying to get the geese OUT.
It appears from the source below that he was almost run out himself in 2014, though must have just scrapped home on a TV replay and politically has been linked to “stirring the pot” with “rumours” before whilst at the crease, according to another NeilElkes/Birmingham Post story from 2013. .
A campaign has been started to “SAVE THE SWANSHURST CANADA GEESE” on facebook, with a petition that can also be signed and which will be presented to the City Council in due course.
I would like to state that I did not start this campaign or petition, and I am not running it either, but have given some sage advice to the very able wildlife campaigners who live in the area close to the park based on the Sandwell experience. We will of course support their objectives to save the geese and hope that Birmingham City council do not go down the line of Sandwell in culling geese based on half truths and out right lies.
I would also like to emphasise that I am not a member of any political party, I just ask questions which some people would like to avoid answering. I am somewhat confused however by Labour’s policy on wildlife and culls, and on this point I am writing to Deputy Leader Tom Watson MP to perhaps provide some unambiguous clarity on how his party can “reconnect” with the electorate. Labour style themselves as “The Party of Animal Welfare”, though when I contacted the Labour Animal Welfare Society (LAWS) about the goose cull in Sandwell and asked what they made of it, I did not get as much as the courtesy of a response.
Here are a few interesting statements made within this charter
1) This Council believes that the rich variety of wildlife in its area is an important treasure to be protected and safeguarded. Wild animals have the capacity to suffer stress and pain through direct abuse and through direct and indirect stress placed upon them by the destruction, reduction and pollution of their food and water sources and habitats.
14) The Council will consult with local residents and groups who have considerable local knowledge, experience and expertise in the welfare and study of wild animals to assist in the formation of strategies and action plans to support wildlife in the area.
16) Management of the Council’s parks, gardens and open spaces will be modified where possible to give greater priority to ecological considerations, and uncontrolled public access will be excluded from the most sensitive areas/habitats.”
It is quite clear that when it comes to Animal Rights, there does appear to be a hierarchy of animals which are worth “saving” more to some people. Geese come much further down the league table than badgers, though are somewhat higher than grey squirrels, pigeons and rats.
I do believe that those claiming anything about “animal welfare” , including its protection should put party politics second and not first.
I am not one of those who shouts “CULL THE TORIES” as though they are to blame for everything , as it is quite plain for anyone to research that though the likes of Labour’s Tony Benn and Tony Banks made great strides for animal welfare in Parliament , there are the likes of Kate “Tally” Hoey MP who do much to kick it back. I can also appreciate that there have been some MP’s like Ann Widdecombe of the Conservatives who have and continue to speak out and up for animals nationally through their status. Anyone who tells you that there is only one evil party and Labour are somehow “the good guys” are leading you up a political garden path, as this is total crap based on the available evidence. There appears to be little difference, and you really can never trust politicians.
In Sandwell and now Birmingham, we see Labour Councillors acting as though they are God and proposing or enacting culls on the basis of spurious claims-against their own “animal welfare” campaign groups charter- just it seems as the current Conservative Government has done with Bovine TB and badger slaying. Sandwell of course infamously lied and DID NOT prick goose eggs as was claimed by one cabinet member who lied on BBC Radio WM about this.
When Cllr Welds talks of “relocating” and pricking eggs “as they do at the Sandwell Valley”, he speaks with little wisdom or knowledge on the subject, despite on his declaration CV being somehow connected with The RSPB- an elitist bird hierarchy organisation linked with supporting mass extermination of species like the ruddy duck amongst others, whilst championing the rare, and denouncing the common. Though he appears a reasonable man open to suggestion on camera, getting the media involved and making this a public issue before really thinking about it carefully wasn’t the smartest move on his part.
Birmingham City Council (under Labour control), acted in partnership with the murderous FERA marksmen at Witton Lakes in 2013 to kill 7 ruddy ducks, as revealed IN THIS FOI REQUEST.
THEY DID NOT HAVE TO GIVE LANDOWNER CONSENT AT THIS TIME.
I could ask from all of this what is Labour’s problem with wildfowl, and why does it bang the drum for cuddly hedgehogs, badgers and foxes- seen to be a Tory hunting pastime, yet in clandestine hypocritical fashion carry out and facilitate wildlife culls and hope that it does not get noticed ? Do they believe that birds feel no pain?
What one can clearly see with direct evidence is an attack on a goose in this very park a couple of months ago where a crossbow bolt was fired through its head at close range. The RSPCA rescued this bird, in an incident which is sadly becoming quite common across the West Midlands and beyond towards wildfowl.
It could be said to be a “species hate crime” in fact. But on this occasion, there appeared to be no words of condemnation from the local elected representatives of this area that some deranged maniac had armed themselves with a weapon to inflict harm on a defenceless bird. Perhaps this speaks volumes as to what their priorities are. One can only hope that there is a change of heart by the two councillors, that the news stories were “sexed up” and sensationalised, and that they are open to discussions in accepting non lethal methods of site management, and that there is never any merit in culling wildlife.
Culling could mean that they themselves are out for a duck.