Belfast Telegraph

Geese face wing-clipping due to Belfast bird strike fear

New fears over passenger safety could spell the end for geese living in the shadow of the George Best Belfast City Airport.

Numbers of greylags show little sign of decline within Victoria Park in east Belfast despite repeated measures to thin flocks.

Aircraft are particularly vulnerable to bird strikes which can cause a potentially catastrophic failure in both engines.

Now Belfast City Council, which owns the parkland, wants to press ahead with the airport to eliminate the winged airborne threat to flights.

One major problem is that the greylag geese are encouraged to remain because they are so used to being fed.

A public awareness campaign is to be mounted, including signs and leaflets, urging park visitors to halt the practice.

Further steps will also include continuing the controversial measure of egg pricking under licence.

And the existing low-level wire fence around the lake’s islands will be replaced with a more effective barrier to prevent access to safe breeding areas.

City councillor Jim Rodgers said: “These heavy greylag geese do pose a serious threat to aircraft landing and taking off and it’s something that must be addressed.”

Claire Ferry, a senior conservation officer with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, also supports the ‘non-lethal’ geese controls. “The airport must take effective measures to reduce the risk of a bird strike,” she said.

But the planned action to make the park less inviting to greylags has ruffled the feathers of the Animal Rights Action Network.

Michael Motley, spokesman for the campaigning group, said: “We will be contacting the authorities and all those involved to offer discussions on how passenger safety can be accommodated alongside wildlife protection.”

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