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Council under fire after wild birds die

PUBLISHED: 07:44 05 October 2010 | UPDATED: 07:45 05 October 2010

RESIDENTS say they are horrified after discovering that council officials shot and killed wild cockerels in Beccles, amid complaints about noise.

The birds were among several that had been living near the quay and had divided the community. Some residents complained they could not sleep because of the noise, while others enjoyed feeding them and gave the creatures names.

Environmental health officers from Waveney District Council said they had tried to capture the birds and rehome them. But, while most were rehomed successfully, “exceptional steps” were taken to deal with the last three cockerels after months of sustained effort and they were shot.

This week, a resident who did not wish to be named said people thought the council’s actions were disgusting and despicable. The person added: “It is really cruel, and a lot of people are very angry about this. Those chickens have become pets to a lot of people and they feed them. They do no harm whatsoever.”

James Howes, whose mother lives nearby, said: “I am horrified. Those chickens have been there for years. They could have at least dropped a letter through people’s doors to explain what they were doing.”

Andrew Reynolds, Waveney’s principal environmental health officer, said the chickens had been abandoned illegally and the council had received complaints about noise. He added: “This left us with little option but to intervene for the benefit of the health of the community. The environmental health team took steps immediately to catch and relocate the cockerels, and the majority of the birds were successfully rehomed without a great deal of fuss.

“However, the remaining cockerels began roosting higher in trees in order to evade capture, prompting us to use a variety of humane methods to capture the birds in order that they could be relocated in a more appropriate environment.

“After four months of sustained effort, we exhausted all methods of live capture and exceptional steps were taken to deal with the last three cockerels, which were continuing to cause an unreasonable disturbance.

“We reluctantly took the decision to remove the remaining three by more vigorous means, and our team made the difficult decision to dispatch three cockerels humanely by shooting them. With the successful completion of this, we believe the noise problem is now over.”

The council has accepted that three cockerels were shot but said it was not responsible for any more deaths.

This comes following reports that thugs trespassed in gardens at night and smashed the heads of hens and chicks, leaving their bodies and feathers in a nearby car park.

Mr Reynolds said: “We know nothing about that.” He added: “In light of some residents’ concerns over shadowy figures being spotted at night, we urge anybody who is suspicious of nefarious goings-on to contact the police immediately.”

Mr Reynolds said the council would consider taking legal action if residents continued to feed the birds.

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