Gulls blamed for killing town park ducklings

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Seagulls have decimated the duck population at popular Egerton Park according to the council.

Rother District Council has put a sign close to the duck pond warning people not to feed birds with anything other than split maize in order to discourage gulls.

The sign issues a stark warning that ducks could be a thing of the past at the park unless park-goers take notice.

The district council has laid the blame firmly at the webbed feet of the seagulls but a respected wildlife rescuer has argued against the local authority’s claims.

A spokesperson for the district council said: “Many visitors to Egerton Park feed the birds but, while we appreciate they are doing so with the best intentions, we try to discourage this as it attract seagulls and rats.

“Apart from the nuisance seagulls cause, particularly around the kiosk, they attack and kill ducklings and are having a real impact on the duck population in the park.

“We often get reports from members of the public upset at seeing the ducklings being picked off one by one.

“This year alone we have lost around 70 ducklings, with only two ducklings and one moorhen surviving.”

“Visitors who want to feed the birds can buy small bags of split maize at the park kiosk, which the seagulls will not eat.

“We hope visitors follow the advice and help us to protect the duck population in the park.”

Wildlife rescuer Trevor Weeks, the founder of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service agrees with the move to encourage people to use the maize feed but does not agree that gulls are responsible for killing all of the ducklings.

He said: “I have concerns over what people feed wildlife in park ponds.

“Wildlife will take the easiest available rather than hunting for the food it should eat.

“Stale or mouldy bread isn’t nutritionally good for the m and can cause illness.

“I don’t want to say you should stop feeding them full stop, but it needs to be done in moderation. Taking a slice of bread or a handful of bird food would be fine but people sometimes take whole loaves of bread.”

“I don’t agree with the statement about the ducklings.

“They are at the bottom of the food-chain which is why ducks can have up to 28 ducklings at a time.

“They will be predated on by seagulls, crows, cats, birds of prey and all sorts.

“That’s nature at the end of the day .”

He also said the large numbers of gulls in Egerton Park is misleading at this time of year because many are fledgelings and juveniles are left in the park in “creche” groups by adults.