Wales

Restraint call to bird hunters in Wales during cold

Ducks on a frozen lake
Image caption Wildfowl are struggling to cope with the physical stress of the cold weather

Licensed hunters in Wales have been asked to show "voluntary restraint" in killing wildfowl, ducks and geese during the cold weather.

The assembly government says shooting licences will be suspended if the freeze lasts more than 13 days.

It is legally required to issue its call to mark eight freezing days.

Officials said that while licences remained valid, hunters are asked to be aware of unusual movements or behaviour in wildfowl during the cold.

The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) is also urging the public to be sensitive to the plight of wildlife during the freeze.

It warns that the severe cold weather can add to animals' physical stress.

The CCW said those enjoying the outdoors in Wales at this time needed to be considerate towards wildlife, and avoid disturbing birds and other animals unnecessarily.

"We are grateful for the fantastic response from the public, and conservation and shooting organisations to help wildlife cope with the current freeze," added CCW science director Dr David Parker.

If the adverse weather lasts for 13 days, a temporary shooting ban would be enforced before the end of next week.

Feeding birds

The advice from the assembly government is also being backed by other countryside groups, including the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology.

RSPB Cymru has also urged the public to help garden birds get through the freeze.

"The insects, berries and seeds garden birds usually feast on will become off-limits thanks to frost and snow, so taking the time to provide some nutritious food and water for them is essential to their survival," said RSPB Cymru's Dana Thomas.

RSPB Cymru suggests:

  • Put out feed regularly, especially in severe weather. Set up a bird table and use high calorie seed mixes. This can also be used to put out kitchen scraps such as grated cheese, pastry and porridge oats.
  • Put out hanging feeders for black sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, sunflower-rich mixes or unsalted peanuts.
  • Ensure a supply of fresh water every day. If it is very cold use tepid water but do not use any anti-freeze products.
  • Put out fruit, such as apples and pears, for blackbirds, song thrushes and other members of the thrush family.
  • Food bars or fat hung up or rubbed into the bark of trees is a great help for treecreepers, goldcrests and many other species.
  • Put up nest boxes to provide roost sites for the smaller birds. They will then be used for breeding later in the year.

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