WILD BIRDS ‘SHOT AT AND KILLED AT CANAL’
FEARS have been raised that wild birds including herons are being shot and killed by the Leeds and Liverpool canal in Melling.
Readers have contacted the Champion to say they have seen several dead birds in the canal including herons, cormorants and even swans.
It was believed that cold weather which had hit the region last month may have caused the deaths but one person contacted the Champion to say he saw men with air rifles by the canal with one of them standing over a duck they had shot.
Paul Maguire said the incident took place on Thursday, May 3 on the stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal between Melling and Aintree.
He said: “Over the last month I have found dead herons, cormorants and swans on the canal.
“That night I found out why.
“I saw two young men with air rifles brazenly shooting at the birds.
“When I got there one of them was standing on the head of a duck he had just shot. Will the police take this on?
“The old saying is that people who kill and torture animals usually move on to bigger game at some point and we all know how that ends.”
A spokesperson for Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, said: “Anyone who witnesses a person shooting at or otherwise attempting to cause harm to wildlife on the canal should report it to the police and to ourselves as soon as possible.”
The spokesperson added that over the past few months they have investigated reports of dead birds being sighted in the canal but did not found any evidence of them being shot.
Last month one resident expressed concerns to the Champion after finding two dead cormorants in the canal close to the Blue Anchor pub but was told by the Canal and River Trust that the cold weather had caused the deaths.
The latest reports of men seen with air rifles in the area, however, have raised concerns that dead birds sighted recently may have been shot.
It is illegal to shoot the majority of wild birds.
Certain species, which include various ducks and geese can be killed but are protected during the closed season which runs from the start of February to the end of August.
The RSPB website states that the illegal killing of fish-eating birds - particularly cormorants and grey herons, which are protected by legislation, continues to be a problem in the UK.