Jack flies to rescue of park geese facing cull over Belfast plane strike fears
A 10-year-old boy has appealed to Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir to have geese posing a threat to low-flying aircraft moved to another park.
Jack McCormick was just eight when he wrote a letter in 2012 to then-Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson after rumours that the geese in Victoria Park in east Belfast were to be culled.
Two years later the letter finally found its way to Mr O Muilleoir, who promised to raise the issues in a meeting with George Best Belfast City Airport.
Jack told the Lord Mayor that he likes to feed the geese but his dad had told him that their numbers would have to be controlled to make sure aircraft could land and take off safely.
"I am an animal lover and would hate to think of anything bad happening to the grey geese at the park," Jack wrote.
"My papa takes me to a great park in Gilnahirk, near where he lives, where I ride my bike and play. It is big, but it has no geese or any animals. Why not move some of your geese from Victoria Park to the park at Gilnahirk? I would make sure that they were well-looked after.
"If you can't move them to Gilnahirk, could you not move them to other parks around Belfast?"
The Lord Mayor wrote back, saying he would be sharing the letter with airport CEO Brian Ambrose and Andrew Hassard, director of Belfast City Council parks department.
"I am sure between them these two wise men will do their best to ensure harmony between the airplanes using the George Best Belfast City Airport and the grey geese of Victoria Park," he said. "I commend you for bringing this matter to my attention and hope you continue to enjoy the parks with your dad."
Jack told the Belfast Telegraph the geese were his favourite animals and had great personalities.
"Last year I noticed that there wasn't that many goslings but this year I'm hoping there will be an increase," he said. "I don't want any of them to die just because of being near an airport. To be fair, the geese were there first, and then the airport was built there."
In recent years eggs laid by the non-native greylag geese at the park have been pricked so that they cannot hatch. Belfast City Council has asked the public not to feed them.
A DoE official said: "There have been significant concerns expressed by the airport authorities regarding the risks to air safety posed by geese flying into and out of Victoria Park. These risks relate to the possibility of geese colliding with aircraft coming in and leaving the airport."
Belfast City Council says one of Victoria Park's biggest attractions is its lake, home to a range of birds such as swans (top left), geese, ducks, waders and herons. Because of its rich variety of wildlife, the open water in the park is part of the Belfast Lough Area of Special Scientific Interest project. The public has been asked not to feed the birds because they pose a threat to aircraft.