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Wildfowl disappear from park in gunshots mystery.

Byline: Emma Pinch

About 30 ducks have mysteriously vanished from a Birmingham park, with local residents reporting hearing gunshots.

Perry Hall Park, Perry Barr, had between 20 and 30 of the birds - a mix of pairs and ducklings - and people would feed them every morning with bread.

But the entire population vanished and residents fear they have been shot and sold as game.

One resident said: 'I was sitting with my wife watching television and we heard a series of bangs. At the time we thought there were fireworks on and did not associate it with the ducks.

'But the next morning at around 9am I went to the pond as usual and though there were a few coots and moorhens there was not one duck, not even a body.'

Earlier that day the resident had been approached by travellers in a green van asking about the various fowl that were usually present.

'I told them about the mallards and the grebe - a little diving bird - but they did not seem the sort of people who were interested in birds,' he said. 'Other residents have said they saw lights being flashed around the pond. We think because the moat is quite small they have killed most of them and those without young have flown off. Lots of the birds weren't fledged so they could not have gone anywhere.'

Amateur ornithologist Norman Ball, aged 59, said the moat had provided an oasis of wildlife in the suburb.

'I have lived here for 35 years and they have never been wiped out before, even with kids taking pot shots at them or breaking the eggs,' he said.

A spokesman for the RSPB said the trade in ducks was common, but killing them with young in a public place was a 'hideous' act.

'There is a legitimate trade in duck shooting but that has to be during open season, in the winter and on special sites,' said the spokesman.

'At this time of year chances are they will have young and the shooting of birds in a public place is an outrage.'

A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council said if any incidents involving firearms were witnessed, residents should go straight to the police.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 23, 2002
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