Campaigners celebrate end of Isle of Dogs bird cull
Campaigners trying to save a colony of monk parakeets on the Isle of Dogs are celebrating victory after Tower Hamlets Council agreed to stop all culling activity in the borough.
The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had instigated a policy to remove the birds from Millwall Park and surrounding streets, claiming their large nests posed a threat to infrastucture.
It was estimated that the cost of removing each bird would be £90,000, despite no evidence that the parakeets had caused any damage.
Last summer Defra removed a number of birds from the park, prompting an outcry from nearby residents who have grown to love the "cheeky" parakeets.
Lorraine Cavanagh, chairwoman of the Millwall Park and Island Gardens Users Group, led the campaign and saw her efforts rewarded when the council agree this week that they would stop Defra reperesentatives from returning.
"We are delighted," said Mrs Cavanagh.
"People have been jumping up and down and crying because they are so happy with this outcome.
"I met with Councillor Rania Khan, head of parks Michael Rowan and borough ecologist John Archer last Monday and was able to convince them that the parakeets posed no threat.
"Cllr Khan said we should be proud of them rather than try to destroy them. That was all we were asking for because the people on the Island really love these birds."
The Council will now contact Defra to request the money earmarked for the cull be used to monitor the parakeets and for an education project for children.
The bird colony has been on the Island since 1987. Another colony in Borehamwood was also on Defra's hitlist, but that was saved when the council there stopped all culling activity on its land.
Mrs Cavanagh added: "Why did Defra want to get rid of the Isle of Dogs colony when birds from Borehamwood could fly here anyway? It didn't make sense.
"You can also still buy monk parakeets in pet shops. If you wanted to eradicate them from this country you'd have to stop that as well."
"In New York they have protected the monk parakeet and it would be nice for Tower Hamlets to be known as the bird-loving borough. If you really believe in something you have to fight for it."
A Defra spokeswoman said: "Control work to remove monk parakeets on the Isle of Dogs has been stopped following a request from Tower Hamlets Council.
"These birds pose a threat to our wildlife and have caused significant damage to infrastructure and crops in other countries. We wanted to take action to prevent this happening in the UK so this decision is disappointing.
"No monk parakeets were shot on the Isle of Dogs, all of those that were removed have been re-homed."