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Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Gunmen to guard rare fish
Hawswater lake
Hawswater lake is one of only a few refuges for schelly
Sharpshooters are to be brought in to the Lake District to save one of Britain's rarest fish from extinction.

Ecologists in Cumbria have called for a colony of cormorants to be culled in an effort to save the little-known schelly from being wiped out.

The birds are threatening the survival of the small white fish, which is only found in four Cumbrian lakes.

The Cumbrian-based Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) says shooting a colony of the birds on Hawswater lake is the only way to preserve the fish.

Schelly
Schelly are facing extinction from cormorants

Scientists say if the cormorants remain unchecked they will literally eat all the fish in Hawswater lake.

Ian Winfield from the CEH at Merlewood, believes a culling policy for the cormorants is a last resort.

"We have tried scaring the birds and that can stop them nesting and so stop them producing.

"But that does not stop the adult birds hanging around.

"The only option now is either we live with the cormorants and let them feed on the schelly, hoping that doesn't send them into extinction.

"The only other option is a cull of cormorants by shooting birds locally on the site.

"Any other kind of activity, such as building refuges for the fish or re-stocking, is not appropriate to a lake like Hawswater."


Click here to go to BBC Cumbria
See also:

16 Jul 02 | Scotland
16 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
09 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
27 Sep 02 | Science/Nature
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