Belfast boy wants alternative home for geese facing cull for safety of Belfast City Airport planes

A 10-year-old boy – Jack McCormick – has appealed to Belfast’s Lord Mayor to have geese, considered to be posing a threat to low-flying aircraft, moved to another park. The Lord Mayor has promised to raise the issues in a meeting with George Best Belfast City Airport.  “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 …. 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 authorities prick the eggs so they don’t develop. Jack said  (children aren’t stupid!):  “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.”

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Jack flies to rescue of park geese facing cull over Belfast plane strike fears

Jack McCormick at Victoria Park
Jack McCormick at Victoria Park

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.”

Background

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.

 http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/jack-flies-to-rescue-of-park-geese-facing-cull-over-belfast-plane-strike-fears-30271335.html

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Other news stories relating to geese and airports:

 

“More geese may have to be culled” at Leeds-Bradford Airport

14th February 2012The airport’s operations director says more geese may be culled to ensure the safety of planes.  He said urgent action was needed from time to time, and  recently met with residents protesting against the killing of geese at Yeadon Tarn last year.  He said measures such as egg picking were already in place – but sometimes it was necessary to react quickly to a particular problem. The airport already used scaring tactics to deflect the geese but had a duty to ensure safety. “We have got to be prepared if suddenly a flock of geese descend and set up a roost somewhere in the locality, and then decide to fly across the airport. We have got to be able to deal with that.” http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=8165.

Leeds Bradford Airport bosses vow to change Canada Geese cull

February 7, 2012     Airport chiefs, who ordered a cull of 10 Canada Geese at a Leeds beauty spot, YeadonTarn, have said they find other ways to control the population. There was no local consultation about the cull beforehand.Food and Environment Research Agency officers shot the flock, which was deemed “a significant risk to aircraft”, in September by closing the green space to dog walkers in the early hours. Plans for an £11million expansion of the airport, which could be completed by this summer, had sparked further fears of culls. A meeting took place recently between the airport and angry local residents.     Click here to view full story…

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Heathrow bosses insist no geese cull planned

27.1.2009   (Hounslow Chronicle)By Robert CumberBird-lovers  breathed a collective sigh of relief this week as aviation chiefs
said they had no plans for  a geese cull around  Heathrow.Experts claim the growing population of Canada geese near the airport is putting
planes at increasing risk of potentially deadly bird strikes, like the one which
brought down a jet in Hudson Bay earlier this month.A leading government adviser told a national paper on Saturday that a cull was
the only way to reduce the threat posed by the birds, which already number 120,000
across Britain.

However, bosses at Heathrow this week insisted existing tactics to keep our feathered
friends away from the runways were working and there was no need for a cull.

A spokeswoman for BAA told the Chronicle staff patrol the airfield every day
in a special vehicle which can play a variety of bird calls to scare off different
species.

They also keep the grass trimmed to reduce the amount of grub available for hungry
birds, and work with local councils to ‘mitigate any risks’ from geese in nearby
fields.

Hounslow is home to a large number of Canada geese, which thrive in areas like
Bedfont Lakes Country Park. The birds, which were sucked into the engines of the
stricken New York jet, pose a particular threat to planes because of their size.

There were 1,299 birdstrikes across Britain during 2007, according to statistics
from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), though this ranges from a swallow hitting
a light aircraft to a goose hitting a jumbo jet.

The number of collisions fell sharply from 2006, when there were 1,780, but there
were 1,233 in the first nine months of last year alone.

Airport owners are responsible for clearing birds from their own airstrips, although
the CAA which would have to give the go-ahead for a cull.

A CAA spokesman said modern aircraft were designed to resist strikes from birds
weighing up to 5lbs7oz but described this requirement as ‘the last line of defence’.

He added that it was vital to manage the bird population near major airports.

“This can mean the netting of nearby ponds, lakes and landfill sites,” he explained.
“The CAA can also advise against granting planning permission for new developments
near airports that are likely to increase the bird hazard such as landfill sites
or water parks.”

link to article

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Birds eggs destroyed over Belfast City Airport plane fears

20.5.2008   (UK Airport News)Bird eggs are being destroyed at Victoria Park in east Belfast by the Environment
and Heritage Service over fears that the hatchlings could affect flights at Belfast City Airport, the BBC reports. The Canadian and greylag geese eggs nesting in the park part of which runs alongside the runway of the airport,are being pricked then dipped in oil to kill the developing chicks.John Milburne, of the EHS, told the news website that, while they did not relish
it, it had to be done for air safety reasons as the geese could pose a real risk
to aircraft.    He said: ‘I was talking to a representative of the airport just
this morning and he told me there were 16 bird-strikes last year.’‘They were reasonably inconsequential in that smaller birds hit the airframe
of planes, but if we had birds being ingested into jet engines, particularly birds
the size of a swan or a goose, then you would have a potential catastrophe on
your hands. We’ve got to deter the birds from actually being there, that’s the
problem, or increasing in numbers, and this seems to be the only known method
of doing that.’Mr Milburne said the geese are descended from birds which have escaped from captivity
in Northern Ireland.     He told the BBC: ‘Naturally occurring populations of those
species only come here in the winter time and they don’t breed here.   These particular
birds at the airport are feral birds and they’re breeding there and that’s what’s
causing the problem.’

He said destroying the eggs was the most humane way of reducing the birds’ numbers,
adding: ‘ ‘We are really talking about doing this quite early in the development
of the embryo in the egg and in some cases before the egg has even started to
develop.’

20.05.08 Birds eggs destroyed over Belfast City Airport plane fears

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