Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 17:26 UK

Bird cull to make way for planes

Rook courtesy of RSPB
The rooks live about three miles from the airport on National Trust land

Hundreds of bird-watchers have signed a petition to save 800 rooks facing a cull at Manchester Airport.

The action was due to be taken against the flock of birds, which have nested in woods near Dunham Massey for 300 years, on Thursday.

The rookery, at the side of the golf course, is directly under a flight path from the airport.

Manchester Airport said on Monday it had postponed the cull to hold talks with the local community.

Many local residents and avid bird-watchers had condemned the move, calling it "unnecessary and cruel".

My wife is an avid bird-spotter and she is devastated, as are a lot people.
Mike Mazurkiewicz

Geologist, Mike Mazurkiewicz, lives nearby. He said: "There are so many other tactics that could be put into place which would scare the birds but not kill them.

"Scarecrows, kites and gas canisters that release a loud bang are often used, obliterating them just seems very extreme.

"The rookery is three miles from the actual airport, I can't seen them flying that far just to get some food.

"My wife is an avid bird-spotter and she is devastated, as are a lot people."

Bird hazard

The birds have made their home on National Trust land, but a spokeswoman for the organisation said the airport was legally allowed to kill the birds if they posed "a serious threat" to the safety of the flights.

Manchester Airport said the birds had been "commuting" between the golf club and airfield and the decision was taken to maintain public safety.

"Plans were in place to adjust the habitat of the rooks on Thursday 30th April, in accordance with the General License issued by Natural England," a spokeswoman said.

"But instead we will be continuing talks with the local community as to how best to proceed with reducing the risks

"The airport already operates a Bird Hazard Management Plan which involves specific measures to reduce the presence of birds on the airfield, including the use of dispersal techniques and habitat management measures."

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