Council talks- “if it isn’t broke let’s not fix it.”

This is a long overdue but necessary follow up and update on what has been happening with regards to Sandwell council and Canada geese. It is perhaps best to read this post from last December as a starting point.

After handing in the petition last year, and also the culmination of the upheld Ombudsman complaint regarding park officer lies, a small group of us did indeed meet with new parks manager Max Cookson and new Cabinet member for Environment Dave Hossell.

From this initial meeting Councillor Hossell confirmed that “a lot of people weren’t happy about it either”– this in relation to his  predecessor and also Max Cookson’s predecessor’s goose cull.

  • We talked about potential strategies for reducing conflicts in certain areas and this resulted in a site visit where suggestions were put forward in this regard.
  • We also asked for increased sweeping at Victoria Park Tipton, and it was stated that the sweeper could be deployed around the circumference of the lake, and would be on a regular basis. A small area was also in fact redesigned so that this could happen.

Easily done

  • There was some suggestion of fencing off part of the pool from the football pitch- though it was later revealed that no one leases the pitch for this activity.
  • It was agreed to look at vegetation management on the countryside sites to make them more attractive to geese- in an attempt to encourage them to remain at these areas.
  • Egg pricking was a grey area and we queried whether the serious questions surrounding Pestex and their actions would see them continue to be employed by Sandwell council.
  • It was agreed that number of eggs pricked by the contractor could not be confirmed by the council, and concern was also expressed as to why this company had been used to “round up” a feral cat on one of the Sandwell farms!
  • It appeared that the council were looking at doing the egg pricking  task themselves and it was stated that officers would be looking into this.
  • A minibus tour of certain areas was suggested.
  • Overall it appeared that the council were keen to draw a line under the previous regime and to inform rather than dictate what they would potentially be doing going forward. A joined up strategy of management of parks and open spaces, was it was agreed the correct way to reduce conflicts of interest between certain park users and geese.

But this is unfortunately I am afraid where the positive comments end, as most of what was agreed, or stated would happen, has to date either not or appears to have petered out.

I was unhappy about comments that Dave Hossell was making in contrast to those being spouted by Richard Marshall in this Express and Star article– now currently ex Leisure cabinet member with responsibility of Parks. Marshall’s public comments  were at odds with Hossell’s in private. (Perhaps it’s wise not to “inadvertently swallow” all natural arisings that SMBC councillors produce). 😆

“Councillor Richard Marshall, cabinet member for leisure, said: “The council is not anti-geese but the mess they leave on paths and pavements is a cause for complaints from residents, especially when people stand in one place to feed them and that in turn attracts vermin and all of those associated issues.”

This E/S story seized upon a freedom of information request that had been submitted about egg pricking and the external pest controller that the council were using. Quite frankly I am not stupid enough to fall for good cop/bad cop for the sake of pacification- so in this regard I copied both into an email to Max Cookson.

I was not happy about the council’s lack of statement as to what their actual position was, and also if Marshall had even been party to any of the comments and suggestions that we had discussed at meetings. It is clear that historically these “complaints” were highly suspect from vested interest parties, and it has also become clear that one ex councillor was writing anti goose letters to the express and star in a fake name.

This therefore is Sandwell council’s official statement regarding geese.

“Dear Mr Carroll,


Thank you for your recent e mail. Please find below my responses to your questions/comments in red.

Having had three meetings now , and having set out our position I would be grateful if you could put in writing Sandwell council’s in terms of what it believes to be “measurable success” in attempting non-lethal methods of site management?

Just to be clear we are not and do not wish to

*attempt to eradicate geese from Sandwell’s formal parks

Agreed, it is not the intention of SMBC to eradicate geese from Sandwell’s formal parks

*destroy all goose eggs so that no goslings ever hatch

It is not the intention of SMBC to “destroy” all goose eggs to ensure that no goslings ever hatch. We will continue to undertake a programme of oiling and pricking eggs, ensuring that some eggs remain and are allowed to hatch. In future the numbers of eggs pricked/oiled will be recorded against the total number of eggs present.

*against all feeding of birds in formal parks where this is usually the only mechanism where ill or sick birds can be observed, monitored and rescued

SMBC will continue to discourage the feeding of birds within its formal parks, particularly the practice of feeding bread to geese/swans/waterfowl. Seed based feed is acceptable, however, it should be noted that this type of feeding is not discriminate and can also encourage vermin within the parks, and this situation will need to be monitored and managed accordingly.

*fence off all pools and prevent wildfowl accessing their natural food source- i.e grass

Certain areas of pools will be fenced off to encourage wildfowl to access selected areas of feeding/access to grass. Access points to and from the water  

will be maintained to allow geese/wildfowl to feed as required.

We do wish to

*reduce complaints from park visitors concerning goose excrement- by methods we have discussed- i.e increased sweeping around paths (preferably towards the end of the week, before the weekend when most visitors will be in the parks), and also trials of fencing in certain areas.

Agreed. Increased Sweeper visits are already in place at Victoria Park as is a plan to fence certain areas of the pool. This practice will continue throughout our formal parks where necessary and where budgets allow. Further meetings of the “Goose Group” will help to identify areas of concern and propose remedial action.

*Attempt to allay people’s misguided fears about geese and the very low human health risk associated with droppings.

This is primarily a matter of education. However, it is my sincere hope that some of the measures proposed above, will reduce the concerns that some people have regarding goose droppings, mainly by ensuring that the droppings are swept frequently, and areas where geese feed are, wherever possible, remote from areas of the park which are utilised frequently for sporting events.

*encourage the birds to graze on areas away from sports provision, but also realising that these areas are not in constant use are not desired by all park users.

See previous answers

*introduce natural food sources to pools/islands such as the formal park pools which enhance the visual amenity and encourage environmental improvements

Agreed.  We have already agreed to try “Reed Beds” in pools and we will explore this measure further.  

*There is a scenario which I foresee, and which I am not prepared to enter into whereby the council will be seen to do or agree to all of these things, yet maintain the notion that they will somehow “fail” because people keep making complaints. I am not sure what “fail” means to SMBC, so I would be grateful if you could clarify this. What would constitute a “failure”  having undertaken non-lethal methods?

I am of the opinion that in order to constitute a “failure” of non-lethal measures to control geese numbers, the geese on site would have to present a clear and present nuisance/threat/danger to those persons using the park. In this case the use of the term “Failure is entirely subjective, what one person may consider a failure may be entirely different to another individuals view on the matter. I will state however, that as long as I remain in the post of Service Manager my primary goal will be to manage bird numbers within the park in a balanced and humane manner. SMBC have no plans to undertake culling at the present time and nor do we foresee planning to cull in the next three years at least. I can further assure you that no future culls will take place without consultation with yourself and other interested parties.

I would remind you, if you are not aware, that complaints alone are NOT a valid reason for culling birds under Natural England’s current guidance or general licences.

Please see above

We have noted that there are numerous individuals who will attempt to make spiteful and vexatious complaints in a deliberate attempt to get the council to destroy all the birds, before moving on to something else. I would be grateful therefore if you could set out clearly what the council’s position is.

As a local authority we are bound to investigate and wherever possible respond to complaints, wherever and whomever they may come from. If a vexatious claimant is identified, measures will be taken to deal with their complaints in a prescribed manner. We will continue to investigate all complaints and respond to them in the appropriate manner.

(redacted question and answer)

I would also wish that for future meetings that both Councillors Hossell and Marshall could be present, just to ensure that we are all working on the same page and are aware of the direction that we at heading in is one shared.

I shall invite both Councillors to our next meeting.



Max Cookson

Waste & Transport Manager





Unfortunately after this Councillor Marshall and Councillor Hossell appear to have disengaged with this issue altogether- I wonder why?

But this is Sandwell council’s position. I have ALL meetings recorded- including all site visits made by officers.

Sweeping around Victoria Park was for some unexplained reason stopped before the summer- when it was of course most needed. WHY? Just to be clear at a recent meeting 10/10/17 we attended I asked if this was about a cost issue.

Max Cookson stated   “no,no,no,no,no ..because Serco on a small area like that , and it is a small area in the grand scheme of things , you know when you look at the whole borough erm it’s not a problem for them, even if we have to send one off route technically, you know if he’s driving off to go somewhere else. He if has to scoot round there.  “  and said that he would be fixing this issue and having the area jet washed. To be fair to him sweeping has resumed- and so it should remain as had been agreed. SO COST IS NOT AN ISSUE HERE TO REDUCE ANY FAECES AROUND THE POOL- IT IS IN THE HANDS OF MANAGEMENT AND SERCO STAFF TO DO THIS.

All talk of fencing appears to have been dropped, as has any plans concerning vegetation planting for now.

It is possible to acquire machines such as the one below for clearing football pitches of any goose or other animal excrement. Just remember to put some oil and water in it so it doesn’t blow up, and not crash it into a shed. 😛 (Though if you have family connections in SMBC this tends to be overlooked. ) :roll:

So what are we to make then of current Sandwell leader Steve Eling’s comments in another recent Express and Star article– again concerning a freedom of information request about the council and goose egg pricking– something which is and always has been their existing policy since 1997 and as stated above by their current park manager:

“It is not the intention of SMBC to “destroy” all goose eggs to ensure that no goslings ever hatch. We will continue to undertake a programme of oiling and pricking eggs, ensuring that some eggs remain and are allowed to hatch. In future the numbers of eggs pricked/oiled will be recorded against the total number of eggs present.”

To start with this headline and tone of article is fake news and very poorly informed. I am not sure to what extent Eling has been briefed by his staff or cabinet members, or if like the vile gangster Darren Cooper deceased (ex SMBC leader who claimed to have made the decision to cull himself but without any paper trail to confirm this), he just makes shit up as he goes along. No one at the Express and Star contacted me for comment- they would see from this article and the content that some positive progress has been made with officers, but Eling’s comments appear to knock these back.

We have never as a campaign called for eggs not to be pricked- as can be seen above! Egg pricking is a non-lethal method put forward by groups such as animal aid and is vastly preferable to breaking necks. It is also clear from personal experience that natural predation of both eggs and goslings reduces numbers significantly without need for all eggs to be pricked.


A gull and goose egg dinner at Victoria park Tipton

This headline is therefore false. The reason that the council did not prick as many eggs in 2017 are-

  • Pestex figures were lies from the year before- the council admit they could not verify them
  • The council did not get around to egg pricking till late in the season- they have admitted this.
  • They did not appear to enter any of the formal parks to prick eggs- just some of the nature reserves.
  • This therefore is entirely an internal SMBC matter and policy matter- and not as the article misleads anything to do with outside pressure and there has not been any “storm” over the practice. Utter made up bullshit.

Steve Eling is quoted

“People who love them think nothing should be done to control the population.

“It is about the size of the population rather than having none at all. We actually get more complaints about geese than complaints that nothing should be done about them.”

Eling’s claims about “complaints” can be assessed by a direct question which I asked Max Cookson at the recent meeting on 10/10/17 , before the publication of this news story.

 “I also think we have to look at this from the point of view of complaints …. I’ve not been made aware of any large number of complaints regarding wildlife” 

There was also agreement at this meeting to look at the figures of hatching geese/eggs nest year and that “if it isn’t broke let’s not fix it.”






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Wildlife on the cards

It is with great pleasure that this blog features the work of talented card maker Jo Adams. Jo has been a long time friend of the campaign and has a passion for wildlife/pagan interests which she uses in her card designs.


We’ve featured some of Jo’s cards at Vegan and wildlife events where she kindly agreed to donate a share of the proceeds to buying corn for Sandwell’s feathered friends.



I’m not being biased, but of course I’m rather fond of the Canada geese cards.




Jo writes

Christmas is coming & it’s time for the usual perfect card for your mum/dad/best mate, or like- minded animal lover.
All my cards are homemade by myself & from every card sold a donation of money is given to Our Wonderful Swanwatch Group/Friends of Sheepwash to help funding for winter supplies of food for the birds.
I can personalise, customise & bring a little feathered magic to your Christmas mantelpiece.
Better than any mass produced card & made with love.
My cards start at £1.50 9small) up to £4 for 8×8. I can also do any size upon request. My FB page is Silly Sausage Bespoke Cards.”



All her cards are hand inked/embossed, stamped & decorated by herself. Check out Jo’s facebook page HERE.


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Egg pricking- Delays and discrepancies

Following conclusion of the 2017 nesting season, we once again asked Sandwell council for information concerning their egg pricking arrangements in their parks and open spaces  via a freedom of information request. There was some delay in answering this but the figures are now in.


Of course, we all know that this was not being done historically, and that in 2013-16 Sandwell had hired the services of the vile murderers “Pestex” to do their dirty work for them, which also included the killing of an alleged 220 adult birds in 2013-14.

Having had some site meetings with Sandwell council staff and new cabinet member earlier in the year, it was apparent that they stated that they were considering dropping the external contractor altogether this year. Concerns had been expressed about what value they were actually offering, as well as our concerns that no one from Sandwell council was actually checking on the figures they claimed to be pricking and oiling.

It is worth at this stage offering their figures of claimed work between 2013-16 in order to draw a comparison with the now released 2017 council figures. Click tables below.






1) In 2017 how many Canada goose nests were identified, how many eggs did each of these nests contain, and at which Sandwell sites were these nests located?

1) We did not record the total number of nests or eggs at each site as a large amount of the nests were empty and the eggs had hatched. We only recorded the number of eggs pricked as listed in response 2 below. Sites included Sheepwash Local Nature Reserve, Swan Pool, Priory Woods Local Nature Reserve, Forge Mill Lake, Dartmouth Park.

2) In 2017 how many Canada goose eggs were pricked and at which sites did this take place?

2) The following sites have been egg pricked to control geese numbers, egg numbers in brackets. Sheepwash (5 eggs), Swan Pool (5 eggs), Priory Woods LNR (6 eggs) and Forge Mill Lake (8 eggs) Dartmouth Park (3 eggs)

3) In 2017 how many Canada goose eggs were oiled and at which sites did this take place?

3) No eggs were oiled.

4) In 2017 how many Canada goose eggs were removed from nests and at which sites did this take place?

4) No eggs were removed from nests.

5) Please state which company was used for this operation and also the cost. Please also confirm whether any of your own staff were involved in this work.

5) We did not engage with any company. The work was completed by our own staff as part of their normal duties.


The first thing to be noted is that the council claim to have discovered “empty nests” which suggests that goslings had already hatched. We would like to state that the pestex earlier figures may suggest that no egg pricking would produce large numbers of goslings, if they did not prick the eggs. Their claimed figures of 22 nests and 144 eggs at Forge Mill in 2015 may suggest that numbers of goslings would be massive here without control.

It can only be concluded this year that the numbers of goslings were not high at all at this site and certainly not anywhere near these claimed figures.

At Victoria Park Tipton and Redhouse park, all hatched goslings counted numbering 7 and 4 respectively were lost- due to attack by the swans and or predation.

At Sheepwash around 40 goslings were noted, and as usual this figure declined to around 1 quarter left after predation from the usual crows, foxes and dogs and swan attacks.

The other park figures did not produce numbers of more than a handful of survivors. West Smethwick park saw all geese chased off by the swans with none attempting to nest. Hydes Road also had none, though a family arrived presumably off the river.

Taken together our knowledge of the number of goslings hatched, and the fact that the council do not have figures of nests suggest the hatched gosling population to be sustainable without having to undertake mass egg pricking. It is certain that culling adult birds is definitely NOT a proportionate action that could be justified on this basis, not that we would agree with this under any circumstances.

We would also advise that the goslings hatched and the geese did not have any adverse impact on any other species at these sites. Breeding success at some sites was raised this year- particularly swans.

Whatever the council decide to do going forward with egg pricking , negative environmental impacts continue to be poor natural vegetation at some formal parks and poor maintenance of them- even at the so called “green flag” sites. We have attempted to get the council to undertake an integrated approach to managing certain areas and discouraging geese from others, but to date can only report negative actions having been undertaken. There will be more discussion about this in upcoming posts.

We therefore have to look at the figures that Pestex were offering, and as far as I am concerned they were just not truthful figures. Increasing or exaggerating the figures is I am afraid typical pest control industry fare. The idea that all eggs on all nests would hatch is disingenuous to start with, but the presented figures do not tell that story, they just give the impression of large numbers. It is the “pest” controllers intention  to secure future demand for their services.

Hopefully, the council can reflect on this year and realise that they are saving money by not hiring external companies to do what their staff are perfectly capable of doing. This is after all the original 1997 council policy, which for whatever reason, those in control of the parks department in those subsequent years were obviously incapable of accepting or managing.

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Money from nothin and they fish for free

I don’t think it should come as any surprise that I have no time for fishing. I have dealt first hand like many other rescuers of wildfowl with the aftermath of this activity and what could have been reasonably prevented. For the last twenty years myself and other rescuers in Sandwell have rescued many geese and swans across the West Midlands that have been tackled, caught up in line or have been suffering from lead poisoning. Though the source of this lead can be argued, the source of the tackle problem cannot. It comes from angling, FACT, no argument.

One should perhaps clarify that serious match anglers may well take their litter home , but casual floating day anglers are a different story.

There are some basic rules which the Environment Agency who govern rod fishing licences in the UK have published. You need a licence to fish, and this includes home made “rods” as well as professional apparatus. In addition to this you also need the permission of the land owner.

The Environment agency whilst promoting this “sport” have also in the past published a “golden rules” leaflet aimed at trying to reduce incidents of wildfowl becoming caught in tackle. It is difficult to gauge if this has had any real success, and historically  wildfowl/ angling make for awkward shared space conflict.

In March 2002, a large study undertaken in partnership with the Environment Agency , National swan convention  and the Angling trades association was published : “The impact of lost and discarded fishing line and tackle on mute swans  Research and development technical record W1-051/TR,  Perrins, Martin, Broughton”

It produced the following major observation in that it

  • “…highlighted the magnitude of the danger which angling poses for mute swans. Rescue groups and the RSPCA attend over 8,000 swans in trouble each year and it is estimated that approximately 3,000 are due to angling -related incidents, either directly hooked or entangled with fishing tackle.”

Also that year, Sandwell council announced that they were going to undertake “an angling policy”. At the time we were suspicious, as the officer in compiling this, as well as his boss and a prominent councillor  who had chaired The Leisure committee were all anglers. They also largely tried to dispute and refute incidents that we were reporting about the damage that fishing in Sandwell was causing. I was challenged to produce “evidence” by Councillor Geoff Lewis. Big mistake, for anyone who knows me.

A report looking at all areas where fishing was allowed in the borough, “An assessment of Sandwell Council’s fisheries management and its effects on wildlife and the environment” , together with recommendations was produced. We collected large amounts of tackle and fishing line from many sites across the borough and combined this with rescue statistics of birds that were injured as a direct result of angling activity- i.e that which could not be refuted.  As a matter of course, all of our rescue statistics were sent to The National Swan Convention ( an umbrella group for rescue organisations),  who collated figures for the Environment agency study and campaigning. The conclusions drawn from our report were

  • 1633 yards of fishing line was collected in just 9 months from Sandwell sites, with 1007 yards of it from Victoria Park Tipton alone!
  • multiple instances of illegal sized lead shot were collected as well as barbed and treble hooks which were supposedly “banned” on Sandwell’s pools
  • 36 birds had tackle related injuries, 14 of them pigeons
  • Little regulation and enforcement by Sandwell council with free fishing and alcohol consumption being rife
  • Fishing on non designated pools was occurring threatening wildfowl that shouldn’t have been

Above all it was noted that free fishing was a serious issue related to anti- social behaviour and litter issues and that this was a problem across Sandwell- because the council did not charge and allowed free unregulated fishing.


Discarded Line and fishing tackle from a Sandwell park

The angling policy in its first draft had to be  largely rewritten by the then parks facilities manager because it wasn’t up to scratch. Though he incorporated some of our recommendations into the policy, it was I am afraid to say a largely theoretical paper exercise. It is practice and enforcement which make the policy.

Fast forward to 2017 and it appears inevitable that I along with others are still engaged in catching birds affected by anglers. Below are a couple of examples from Sandwell this year, where free fishing continues to be allowed.







…and this was a fish someone had left behind.


Officially Sandwell council claim that people should pay for fishing on their pools, as with any other “sporting” activity, why shouldn’t they to use the facilities? The known truth however is somewhat different. This is what is claimed on their website.

“Sandwell Council issues tickets which allows fishing at the following pools:
Dartmouth Park, West Bromwich
Swan Pool, Sandwell Valley Country Park, West Bromwich
Sheepwash Nature Reserve, Tipton
Hydes Pool, Woden Road South, Wednesbury
West Smethwick Park, Smethwick
Victoria Park, Tipton.
Fishing Fees and Charges for Sandwell Pools
Type of ticket
Adult Season Ticket
Under 16s / Over 60s Season Ticket
Adult per day (maximum 2 rods)  
Under 16s / Over 60s per day (maximum 2 rods)
You can buy fishing season tickets from Sandwell Park Farm, please ask in the shop. Bring a passport size photo so we can issue you with your season ticket.”

A Freedom of information request has revealed that this theory is rather fishy to say the least. I asked

“Please provide information for the last 5 years period 1st April 2012- 1st April 2017.
(I) Number of adult season tickets sold for each year
(ii) Number of under 16s/over 60’s season tickets sold for each year
(iii)Number of adult day tickets sold for each year
(iv) Number of under 16’s/over 60s day tickets sold for each year

Please provide the total revenue earned by the council from fishing between 1st April 2012 -1st April 2017.”

The council answered in a rather messy way, but here are their official figures for each question.

(I) Number of adult season tickets sold for each year

2012 = 1

2013 = 0

2014 = 2 

2015 = 2

2016 = 0

2017 =3
(ii) Number of under 16s/over 60’s season tickets sold for each year

2012 = 0

2013 = 2

2014 = 0

2015 = 0

2016 = 0

2017 = 0
(iii)Number of adult day tickets sold for each year

2012 = 0

2013 = 0

2014 = 0

2015 = 0

2016 = 0

2017 = 0
(iv) Number of under 16’s/over 60s day tickets sold for each year

2012 = 0

2013 = 0

2014 = 0

2015 = 0

2016 = 0

2017 = 2

Please provide the total revenue earned by the council from fishing between 1st April 2012 -1st April 2017.”

The total  revenue is £303.


I think it is fairly obvious to draw some instant conclusions from these figures, these being

  • The council are making next to nothing from this activity, (£303 in five years),and one has to conclude with the costs associated with litter picking by council staff and volunteers and anti -social behaviour, this is not sustainable.
  • Some people have paid a fee to fish, whereas the majority have paid nothing.
  • There appears to be no charge for day ticket fishing (not a single ticket sold in five years!)
  • There cannot be any checks being made by anyone , rangers, street wardens or anyone else to enforce these charges.
  • People are fishing for free in Sandwell , and this appears to be endorsed by the lack of interest by the executive in enforcement procedures.
  • Anti-social behaviour is clearly linked to free fishing, not only nationally, (as expressed to senior EA fisheries officers that I have spoken to at  swan convention meetings ), but in Sandwell as well.
  • Litter is clearly linked to free fishing, and by association tackled birds affected by this.
  • These poor figures, and failure of the angling scheme impact on policy for Sandwell council including sustainability and  crime and disorder implications.

On top of this, where are Sandwell’s Street wardens being deployed when they visit parks? One hears stories of people being fined for their dogs bowel movements by this uniformed praetorian guard, and even famously how they were tasked with the suspect counting of Canada geese by the former parks manager which preceded their abhorrent murder. But why are they not being tasked to earn their money- i.e collecting and enforcing fishing fees (particulalrly day tickets, as well as netting any drinking going on in tents and bivvys?

I will look at the dire impact that Eastern European migration has had to this issue and poaching in a separate blog post. The Environment agency bailiffs appear conspicuous by their absence, despite publishing their rules as described at the link earlier in this post.

Unfortunately Sandwell’s angling policy recommended responsibility for its pools be doled out to “clubs” , yet the professional conduct of such “organisations” was found to be woefully inadequate in some locations , and a poor passing of a poisoned chalice to unprofessional ill equipped amateurs. The council need to take some care in their parks and open spaces.

We have witnessed illegal fishing, criminal damage by cutting down trees to create fishing spaces and drunken anti-social behaviour- as well of as course the ever linked litter with this activity. All of this is an issue of enforcement and stopping those responsible.

There is no economic argument for free fishing in Sandwell’s pools and open spaces to continue- especially when these sites are claimed to be being challenged by Government cuts. We have proven the effects and damage to wildlife and the environment that free fishing causes, and also with this FOI request how some people are unfairly being ripped off where others pay nothing. If someone was to visit a commercial fishery they would have to pay to use the facilities, and for that one could expect that charge to pay for the upkeep of those facilities. The current fees and charges for fishing in Sandwell are not unreasonable, they just need to be collected.

One can only conclude that if free fishing is unsustainably allowed to continue in Sandwell’s parks and open spaces, to their detriment and undesirability,  it can only be a “political decision” made not by the weight of evidence against it, but because it might put some people’s friends out of pocket. That is no way to conduct policy.


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Foxes and geese

Geese have their natural predators- several of them. Goslings are taken by crows, magpies, gulls and herons from the air. But without doubt the biggest enemy comes from the ground attackers.


Serial liar and former parks manager John Satchwell makes false claims in 2013


Geese have voracious natural predators, who have a far lower mortality rate than the numbers of geese on which they predate.  The birds are watched constantly from the waterside and within the reeds. Adult geese are certainly also vulnerable to being killed, stalked from the shadows as they graze on the bankside. Their predator and mortal enemy – Vulpes vulpes, otherwise known as “the red fox”.


Beware the cuteness

Over the years I have been fully aware of the danger posed to wildfowl from the land. Unfortunately they have put pay to several rescues I have attempted of previously injured birds by getting to the bird first, leaving them with no heads. Power line casualties are very often finished off by foxes, removing all trace of the real cause of death. It is also unfortunate that though persecuted themselves, the fox appears to have very much in common with those humans who hunt them in the manner in which they stalk, poach and hunt mercilessly themselves. It is however “nature” that determines both the destiny of the fox and the goose, a necessity and not perverted self gratification.

I recently had an interesting first hand encounter with some foxes that were clearly out to grab a goose or two for dinner. I suddenly heard loud honking which I recognised as the goose distress call- particularly used when the geese spot a predator and are in the presence of their goslings. The mallards on the pool were also quick to usher a collective braying quack. They were not alone on the pool, and they were being watched from the reeds.


As one fox remained at the bankside, another entered the water where the level was shallow. It is the first time I have seen this, though foxes themselves are very good swimmers, like other domestic dogs.

It was clear that this fox had on its mind the 19 geese in front of it.


As it got deeper into the water, paying some causal attention to its human watcher, the geese began to coral themselves into a circle, as the chief gander began to defiantly honk away at the intruder.



This was not a friendly encounter, it was a matter of life and death. Had the geese been at the reed side there would have been a different outcome. The fox then started to lower its body and head, almost like the geese do when in a threatening posture, or to try to hide themselves.


It was trying to get behind the geese and send them into the reeds, where no doubt the second fox was poised to strike. But the geese stood strong, and it was obvious to the dog that it was not going to get a meal. A strange thing then happened when the fox decided to pick up a stray goose feather in its mouth and then spit it out when retreating back towards the reeds. It is also fair to say that at this point of the year, post moult, that the fox is at a disadvantage given the geese can now fly again. Perhaps prompting the fox into taking a bold attempt at waterside hunting.


Not by the feather of my goosey goose chin!

But don’t be in any doubt about this voracious predator of geese. Of the 40 plus goslings on this site, currently less than a quarter remain, with 5 adult protectors which would indicate that one adult has also been lost. I have no doubt that the watchers in the reeds take their chances- but that’s natural predation for you.

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Save wildlife from the “garden city”



Dubious plans have been announced concerning the development of The Dudley Port area– in effect most of which is not in this area but in Tividale in Sandwell. This local issue is one which will affect the wildlife in this area irrecoverably if more houses are built on the margins  of a designated local nature reserve and canal wildlife corridor.


Worse than this, the site of a former tip proposed for more housing in the Temple Way area lies next to a poisonous hazardous waste pool known as “Rattlechain lagoon” which has been responsible for killing dozens of birds through ingestion of white phosphorus- a banned rat poison.



We will not stand by to see this area destroyed by planners who have little to no knowledge of this area and its wildlife, or the long history of how this area has been polluted by insidious and rotten businesses lining their pockets through avarice.

There comes a tipping point when you have to say NO MORE HOUSING HERE! So called “Brownfield land” is an easy target for developers and people are being conned into believing that such reclamation schemes will bring long term advantages over so called “short term inconveniences”.

The nonsense scheme at Rattlechain is one that has been seen before in the 1990’s which came to little but foundry sand dumping- an unstable and dirty material that blighted people’s homes, and cannot be said to be “safe” to human health when dumped in such large quantities with other materials blowing in the wind.


It brought “misery” for over a decade, and the letter below confirms how the then Black Country Development Corporation road roughshod over people’s concerns and objections in the area.



Unfortunately Sandwell council (aka the goose killers), are once again behind these proposals and continue to make a mockery of the concept of “consultation”.

Now 3 weeks into a six week “consultation” they have announced that officers will be available to speak to people about this scheme at an event held at Victoria Park Tipton- the scene of their goose snatching relocation lies, as well as an event that is hosted by The Deputy leader of Sandwell council. Deception appears to be their speciality.

This is over a mile away from Tividale, and so there can be little doubt that this local authority want to see no objections from the people whom it will affect most- IE THE RESIDENTS OF TIVIDALE AND THE TEMPLE WAY ESTATE.


What a total CON job!

In the interests of democracy and the protection of the area that it will affect, we are therefore proposing our own consultation event IN THE AREA, where people can learn more about the shocking history of waste disposal in this area, and how the HOPE of nature can recover the scarred landscapes of selfish manmade tipping operations.

We want to see this area left to nature and kept green, not foundry sand black. We want to see the nature reserve at Sheepwash thrive and not become further threatened and marginalised by inappropriate development.


Of course people on this estate and the local area are free to bury their heads in the sand and do nothing, but don’t say we didn’t warn you about what you will loose. “Garden Cities” are a PR conjob created by the political and business class to line their scheming pockets.




Tipton Road Methodist Church 
Saturday 22nd July between 11am -3pm




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A new bird in town- Avianengers assemble

Gooseman was under pressure, he couldn’t do it all. Fighting crime and political grime and stopping culls had taken their toll, so he decided to go on a vacation and get a nose job. Even Worzel Gummidge and Doctor Who had more than one regeneration.


New head

Refreshed and revitalised he approached an old allie- Swanderwoman to help him out at the Go wild Birmingham wildlife festival. He was after all in the vicinity of rogues next to the council house, and he had heard there may be some dodgy characters in the area,  with the event being held this year in Victoria Square.

A stall selling cards and advocating local environmental issues was manned.


Don’t even think about it Mr Fox!


But it wasn’t long before gooseman wanted a gander at the square, and he had also brought with him a sign.



He hoisted up the sign as high as it would go. Hopefully the bureaucrats and politicians in Birmingham would not be talking abut “being in favour” of culls anytime soon.

But as he mingled for selfies with the crowd, he was about to be upstaged. Enter Swanderwoman from stage door left.



The dynamic duo

Swanderwoman had arrived and the diva began to party centre stage. More Abu Ghraib stationed than BabeStation, this is one Brexit B’yatch ass kicking dame. But she couldn’t give a zig a zig ahhh as she started dancing with some of the locals. Well- those coppers always do it at the carnivals.





Shaking that ass


But who was this “Victoria” bird- surely not one of her idols from the 1990’s!

Autograph hunter

But swanny spice was disappointed when she learnt it was just an old queen that was in the square.




After posing for several selfies they met some drummers.


Before heading for the fluzy in the jacuzzi, minus the water.


The adventure was soon all over, and after listening to passionate speeches from a variety of animal welfare advocates and campaigners , braving fierce gale force winds and scoffing down a burger from the vegan grindhouse, there was one  last meeting in the square with ironman.




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Urban Wildlife matters! An alternative election manifesto

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The chances are people do not vote strongly in large numbers on animal welfare matters to change the outcome of the eventual result, which is why these policies are usually towards the back of party political manifestos. Politicians being politicians however,  calculations are done in whether people in their areas are either for or against issues, and then they do the sums, making brief but often open ended statements before the polls.

Two issues appear to dominate “animal welfare” issues in recent times- namely fox hunting, and more recently the badger cull. MP’s who have their constituencies in predominantly city and town areas largely oppose these two issues, because there are no positive votes likely to be found by supporting them in areas where neither occur. In the West Midlands county for example- The Black country boroughs of Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall, Birmingham, and a small part of Coventry- no fox hunting with packs of dogs and people chasing on horseback occurs. There are also no current badger cull zones in any part of this area.


How safe are urban foxes from being targeted?

These issues are raised frequently because they are human interest stories which are highly politically motivated by divisions of class issue and by divisions of “town” and “Country”. They make good clickbait.

I’m not going to talk any further on these two issues- because quite frankly I’m absolutely sick and tired of them dominating the “animal welfare” agenda, to the point where no other issue is ever raised about animal suffering or “rights.”

Other animals and bird species are “torn to pieces”, other animal and bird species are “cruelly hunted to death”, and other animal and bird species  are “pursued by the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.”

Hypocrisy is rife in all this, not just by politicians, but also by many  who claim to support animal welfare/rights. I’m not sure why it matters more if a fox in the countryside is killed by someone rich with a pack of dogs on horseback during daylight hours, any more than being killed by poorer people on foot with dogs during night time hours in an urban setting. My point is the former will be newsworthy, attract large social media attention and comment and all the class based vitriol that is human emotion rather than any care about the animal dying itself. THEY ARE BOTH IMMMORAL, THEY ARE BOTH EQUALLY WRONG!

But in all of this what of the plight of the urban fox, or other creatures cruelly killed by council estate chavs with lurchers and lamps? Why do so few people in urban areas want to protest against his, report this to the authorities, or even lift a finger to stop and sabotage this- on their own doorsteps?

My concerns over the last 20 years and campaigning has been almost exclusively in the urban environment, also including rescue of birds where little media attention of the issues being faced in this urban setting is being addressed by the political class.

I have looked at all of the main party manifestos and their animal policies in the run up to this hastily called general election, and as an urban animal welfare advocate I find little of interest or inspiration that would make me want to vote for any of them based on this. The two species in the same countryside setting appear once again at the fore front, with little else- but why? Why do politicians from urban areas believe that coming out of their constituency holding up a freshly printed sign saying that they are against fox hunting is important to them? What have any of them really done for the welfare of wildlife on their doorstep?

As an alterative manifesto, I offer some crumbs for urban wildlife. Perhaps anyone reading with political clout  may take some of these on board, or dismiss them completely and then down the line regurgitate them as their own ideas. I wouldn’t really mind that if it achieved the objective of getting the urban animal welfare issues discussed- issues that currently receive none.

#1 The return of the angling close season.

The removal of the statutory coarse fish close season on most stillwaters since 1995 and on canals in 2000 has had a negative effect on injuring wildfowl with all year round fishing occurring, where previously a lull between March 16th-June 16th gave nesting birds time to nest and raise young safely.

This gave an opportunity also for vegetation and other bankside wildlife to grow without being trampled. Most local authorities gave up management of fishing at their sites- or doled them out to outfits who were ill equipped to manage problem areas, with free fishing meaning anti social behaviour, angling litter, wildlife problems and poor fish handling. There must be a return to paying to fish on local authority waters and also canals.

A 2002 study Environment Agency study entitled “The impact of lost and discarded fishing line and tackle on mute swans  Research and development technical record W1-051/TR,  Perrins, Martin, Broughton,

highlighted the magnitude of the danger which angling poses for mute swans. Rescue groups and the RSPCA attend over 8,000 swans in trouble each year and it is estimated that approximately 3,000 are due to angling -related incidents, either directly hooked or entangled with fishing tackle.”

 Over 1,000 wild birds were admitted to RSPCA wildlife  centres between 2005 and 2013 as a result of entanglement in  fishing litter. 57 percent (601) of these were swans.

As an active wildfowl rescuer for 20 years I am fully aware at the sharp end of how urban wildlife is continuing to suffer on a daily basis , being needlessly and cruelly killed by this unregulated human recreation activity. So why do MP’s continue to ignore such matters- could it be that criticism is not a vote winner but ignorance is bliss?


#2 A ban on all forms of lead shot used in angling and shooting

Allied to the point above, lead shot both old and still used continues to poison water birds. It is a myth that all lead shot was banned in 1987. The same study mentioned above found that lead poisoning in the UK accounted for 3.6% of swan rescues over the period 1996-99, though in some “black spot” localised mainly urban  areas, the situation was much higher. The black country is one of these areas. I speak from personal experience on this also.

There have been numerous studies, debates etc, but the general consensus among those in power favours the angling trades association’s protectionism. It is an economic protection issue that neither Labour nor Conservative Governments wanted to tackle- despite clearly being a toxic material being allowed to come into direct contact with the water, and be lost.

The angling associations , previously had a prominent friend in Westminster with Labour’s Martin Salter eventually going on to work for The angling Trust.

The issue with shooting and lead ammunition has also been consistently kicked into touch.

There is no rocket science about allowing a highly known toxic material to enter watercourses. ALL LEAD IN ALL ITS FORMS SHOULD BE BANNED!

#3 Tackling illegal fishing and poaching in urban areas with automatic jail sentences.

Illegal fishing costs both the economy through rod licence evasion and also poses significant risks to urban wildlife and fish. Since 2004 and free movement of people from Eastern Europe the issue has soared, with theft of fish on an industrial scale from still waters and also rivers. I have first hand experience of finding many hand made dangerous fish traps. The one below on a nature reserve was seven foot long and had been put out off an island with rope attached.


I am not naïve enough to believe that this is all the fault of foreigners, and also that they are unaware of British traditions of returning fish and need educating. The scale of the theft is organised and it is a crime. It needs to be tackled in this way as that issue with automatic sentences. If people continue to engage in these activities, they should be deported.

More local Environment agency backed bailiffs need to be created and directed at urban hot spot areas where it is known to occur.

Local authorities need to enforce local bye laws such as a ban on night fishing and the use of inappropriate tackle.

Poaching also takes the form of killing wildfowl and also some urban dwelling deer. Do not give me any hard luck stories of fake poverty being responsible for this- it is wildlife crime in an urban setting, and as disgusting as some Conservative supporter on horseback hunting down a fox in cold blood. “Little John’s” are not romantic heroes, they are wildlife criminals and they should be jailed when caught poaching.

#4 Dog control orders in designated sites of importance for nature conservation and nature reserves

Dogs not kept under control are killing wildlife in urban areas- but it doesn’t make headlines. Worse still many dog owners refuse to accept that chasing birds into water or even foxes into woodland is a problem. They need to be educated on this but some won’t, which is where dogs on lead by direction orders come in. If they still refuse to control their dogs, they should be fined or even banned from a site.

I believe there could be a requirement to either muzzle or keep dogs on a lead around water courses . This may be controversial but there are no chance of “accidents” occurring that way- and what really is the problem with that in ensuring your dog is protected from others that may attack and bite it?

Dogs should not be allowed to swim in watercourses.

There are some people who are using dogs in urban areas for hunting purposes. I regularly follow them and gather intelligence which is passed on. If vets repeatedly see people turning up to their surgeries with injuries to these animals, they should be legally bound to report suspicions to the RSPCA and police, instead of patching up for profit and ignoring urban wildlife hunting.


This swan was left with its leg hanging off after being attacked by an out of control Labrador.

#5 The licensing of air weapons and tougher sentences for misuse

This has been a long standing personal issue to me and one which I will continue to remorselessly hunt down and stalk people back to their homes  who use air weapons in public places, because they are scum.




Many forms of wildlife are suffering, as well as domestic cats and dogs and there is no such term in English law as “vermin”.

Successive Governments have failed to take control of this issue and even when caught red handed, police fail to take appropriate action other than “advise”. Anyone caught shooting in a public place should loose their weapon and be charged where they clearly commit wildlife crime offences.


In an example below, a coot was shot by the youth with a woman he was with tossing the dead bird like a toy for her Labrador to play with. He was identified by the police, the bird was taken as evidence by the RSPCA, and between them after 6 months they failed to communicate with one another, both blaming one another in the process. He escaped justice. WHY?- I subsequently learnt that this youth had volunteered significant information about a person of interest- (he had snitched on his mate), who subsequently had his house raided for drugs and weapons and received a prison sentence.




#6 Stronger bye laws for Local nature reserves and sites of importance for nature conservation.

I have dealt with some of the issues prior to this but would like bye laws implemented at all sites to protect urban wildlife. This would include

#a ban on the flying of drones/model aircraft in these areas

#a ban on the “exercising” of birds of prey (where in reality we all know what is going on there.)

#no barbeques which creates a fire risk to habitat

#no model boats

#no swimming or use of inflatables

#no removal of trees/plants etc

#7 Safer access solutions for urban wildlife

Roads are dangerous places for urban creatures to find themselves on. We all look away when there is a dead animal on the road with sorrow, but roads are being expanded all the time and traffic is becoming impossible to avoid. When these schemes are dreampt up there appear little planning carried out for urban wildlife in how they will adapt to this.

Solutions such as creating tunnels under watercourses separated by roads where road kill is high can be achieved or green bridges such as in The Netherlands.

#8 Stopping developments on so called “brownfield” sites that have become important urban wildlife habitat.

Urban wildlife does not have the same statutory protections that so called “green belt” areas enjoy. It is being systematically weakened by planning laws being relaxed in order to build more houses on so called “brownfield” land. Not only is this dangerous for future human use due to the legacy of pollution on this land, but also the secluded nature of these sites have become havens for urban wildlife and corridors for them to exist. When these go they loose their homes and likely their lives when they are forced onto roads or deemed “pests” to people usurping their habitat.

This needs to change, and the greed of the house building industry and the lies of their so called “environmental consultants, who are nothing more than PR spinners, needs to be put in check. Urban areas can naturally become green and support a variety of urban wildlife. Theses places do not need pretentious names such as “Garden cities” which are merely a window dressed extension of urban sprawl. They just need some basic recognition that they are important and worthy of turning into nature reserves. We need more of these in urban areas.

#9 The repeal of the EU birds and habitats directive article nine which legitimises culls of urban wildlife


The Habitats Directive (more formally known as Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora) is a European Union directive adopted in 1992 as an EU response to the Berne Convention. It is one of the EU’s two directives in relation to wildlife and nature conservation, the other being the Birds Directive.

The Green party in particular, who undoubtedly lead on animal welfare issues have called on these EU directives to be secured on Brexit. But here’s what they miss, and why they are wrong about this, and I’m not sure why they want to protect a mechanism that has brought nothing but senseless slaughter to birds not belonging in the new border of Europe- something which birds have been crossing for millennia.

Let’s look at how this ghastly EU legislation, backed up by the likes of Birdlife International (should be Birddeath International) and the RSPB treated the ruddy duck. These avian eugenicists preach about biodiversity, yet do nothing about hunting, which is what the current bird directive protects and facilitates.

“Ruddy Duck Control EU Directive (79/409/EEC) on the Conservation of Wild Birds (Birds Directive) With regards to Ruddy Duck control, Article 11 of the EU Directive (79/409/EEC) on the Conservation of Wild Birds (Birds Directive) states that “Member States shall see that any introduction of species of bird which do not occur naturally in the wild state in the European territory of the Member States does not prejudice the local flora and fauna.”

EU Directive (92/43/EEC) on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (Habitats Directive) Article 22 (b) of the EU Directive (92/43/EEC) on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (Habitats Directive) states that “Member States shall ensure that the deliberate introduction into the wild of any species which is not native to their territory is regulated so as not to prejudice natural habitats within their natural range or the wild native flora and fauna and, if they consider it necessary, prohibit such introduction. The results of the assessment undertaken shall be forwarded to the committee for information.”
“Convention on Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Convention) Article 8 (h) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Convention) states that “each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and appropriate, prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species.”

“Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) Article 11 (2) (b) of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) states that “each Contracting Party undertakes to strictly control the introduction of non-native species.”

“Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) Article III (4c) of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) which relates to endangered migratory species states that “parties that are Range States of a migratory species listed in Appendix I shall endeavour to the extent feasible and appropriate, to prevent, reduce or control factors that are endangering or are likely to further endanger the species, including strictly controlling the introduction of, or controlling or eliminating, already introduced exotic species.” “


You see where I am coming from with this, and it is EU legislation that has proposed culls of grey squirrels amongst others.

Those who support Britain’s membership of the EU, do so in total ignorance as to what it’s directives have done for urban wildlife. I like ruddy ducks, and with over 5000 of them killed in the UK to “protect” a Spanish bird is a sick idea. Ban the hunting and stand up to those greasy Mediterranean murderers.


A bird should not be killed because of border setting EU bureaucrats and conservationist bigots

#10 An end to urban wildlife culls and the introduction of non lethal methods of site management.

Obviously something at the very heart of our campaign. There are alternatives to culling which are widely available. Animal Aid have produced a report into this.


We also looked into this regards geese in Sandwell.

The prejudiced lie

Finally I would like to say that if we forget the common in the towns only favouring that which a very few humans decree should be “conserved” in their interpretation of areas that should be “protected” in the countryside, the next time you go down to an urban oasis for wildlife it may not be there anymore for the many to see. Urban wildlife matters!


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The ignorance of Jan Britton

Back in December I delivered a cheque back to Sandwell council house, the one that the chief executive of Sandwell council Jan Britton had sent me, despite The upheld Ombudsman complaint stating that I did not want it.

It appears clear that Britton had not read the Ombudsman report, which is now available on the Ombudsman website.  The key agreed action from this states the following at points

agreed action

“The Council will review how it records its decisions so its reasons are clear.”

As far as I am concerned this refers to how the council records decisions period and not just related to this case, yet it is quite clear to see that no officer in the council along with any councillor has respected the Ombudsman’s agreed action. There has been no review at all, and this is clear to see from looking at the council’s CMIS system. Accordingly I have written to the Ombudsman to report this.

But not only has the chief executive officer of Sandwell council not bothered to investigate how the ludicrous Darren Cooper deceased and his crooked cabinet was running the council without recording any decisions, he has ignorantly failed to even respond to my letter which accompanied his unwanted cheque. This also highlighted how someone from within the corrupt parks department had lied about culling in a freedom of information request.


To recap the letter I pointed out

  • how four officers of the council had lied
  • I was sent email of staged pictures which have never been explained as to why geese were being “released”
  • The contractors of the council lied, but are they going to use these liars services again in the future?
  • how the council failed to record any aspect of the divisive decision and without any public consultation. ·         The officer report written by the man in charge of parks at the time appeared to have no recorded genesis as to how it was suggested to be written

    ·         No mention is made of which parks culling should take place in- just a recommendation of “two”

    ·         No mention is made of the fact that these two parks just happened to be the park in which the former parks manager lived, and the other in which his son of the same name found himself a job as “project manager”

    ·         No record of the decision was made at any Council meeting

    ·         No record of any member approving the action in 2013 was taken

    ·         No record of any member approving culling in 2014 was recorded

    So in light of none of this apparently being looked at and following the Ombudsman’s action, it’s obviously  just corrupt business as usual at Sandwell MBC under the same man who was totally blind to all of this as well as apparently everything else going on in the rotten borough. It was recently revealed in The Express and Star that

    “Sandwell Council chief executive Jan Britton was paid £156,942 in 2015-16, slightly down from £157,192 the previous year.”


    The perfect skills for the job in running Sandwell council

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It has today been confirmed officially by Birmingham City Council that there are NO PLANS to cull any Canada geese in any of its parks. A freedom of information request has stated that no birds have been killed by the council in the last five years and there are also no plans to introduce egg pricking of goose eggs either.


The response by Val Llewellyn, Professional Support Services Adviser Governance and Compliance and seen by SOSCG also stated

“The Parks Service has a record of all complaints received for the service but not particularly for Canada geese. However, we have checked the records and there were no complaints for Canada geese.



This response will be hailed by campaigners who were horrified when unsubstantiated claims about “goose attacks” were made by two local councillors at Swanshurst Park in Mosley, which provoked a furious response from local residents and campaigners against culling the birds.

One however should be cautious about the response, and it should be hoped that the council will not be swayed by unfounded speculation in the local press about geese “waging war” or anything else on humans.


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