Animal rights campaigners fear rare sparrows nesting in Ponders End Tesco will be shot

The sparrows are believed to be at risk inside the Ponders End Tesco store

The sparrows are believed to be at risk inside the Ponders End Tesco store

First published in News by

Animal rights campaigners fear rare sparrows nesting in a supermarket could be shot unless urgent action is taken to remove them humanely.

Members of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) are amongst groups desperate to save the house sparrows, which are believed to have made the Ponders End store their home for months.

The Enfield Independent understands Tesco is applying for a licence through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to allow pest control to shoot the birds after other trapping techniques, including installing nets, removing windows and deploying a sparrowhawk, all failed.

Rob Husband, group leader of the North West London Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said: “It does seem most odd. If the store set up a food station outside then they would stay outside.

“If they give them the licence, there is nothing we can do about it. The sparrows should be controlled humanely. We are wondering if it is possible to trap them."

He said a duty manager told a member of the public who asked about the sparrows that they could be shot if a licence is given to the store to remove them for health and safety reasons.

Mr Husband is especially concerned for the birds’ welfare, as the species’ UK population plummeted by 71 per cent between 1977 and 2008.

But he said the RSPB has limited resources and it is up to Tesco to remove the birds humanely.  

The RSPB has given the globally-threatened species a red status, which means they are in the highest category of concern.

Joanna Brown, of wildlife campaign group Enfield Wildlife Concern, was contacted about the birds just before Christmas by a member of the public who spotted them in the supermarket.

She immediately contacted the RSPB, and finds it difficult to believe the sparrows cannot be trapped.

London Wildlife Trust volunteer Kit Jones, who visited the store last week but could not catch a glimpse of the birds, said it would be “crazy” to kill them.

RSPB communications manager Tim Webb said the charity would be happy to speak to Tesco about saving the sparrows.

He said: “We would be happy to give them some advice on how to resolve the problem, but catching the birds would be the first idea.

“It really is taking a sledgehammer to peanuts.”

He added that it was quite common to hear of small birds roosting in supermarkets, but taking out a licence to shoot them would be “a bit of an overreaction”. 

A statement from Tesco said: “Our goal is to release any birds which have found their way into our stores, while ensuring we maintain our high standards of hygiene.

“In spite of repeated efforts to free the sparrows, including removing windows at the front of the store, using a sparrowhawk and deploying nets, we have been unsuccessful.”

A Tesco spokeswoman was not able to go into specifics about the case.

Comments (5)

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11:39pm Fri 4 Jan 13

caroline1980 says...

I have seen these birds several times in store and not just this year, it would be an enormous shame for them not be caught and freed. I am glad to see some news coverage, this may encourage Tescos to try a little harder.
I have seen these birds several times in store and not just this year, it would be an enormous shame for them not be caught and freed. I am glad to see some news coverage, this may encourage Tescos to try a little harder. caroline1980
  • Score: 0

11:50pm Fri 4 Jan 13

paulinebradford says...

I am all for saving the birds not killing them,but if food station is put outside it will attract pigeons which ponders end has had problems with in past months.all due to people throwing bread out for them,not just little bits but vast quantities.we've had problems with rats too.But no one has mentioned the health issues because of the doing what all birds do. as usual tesco are doing what they always do rather than deal with issues and thats nothing.
I am all for saving the birds not killing them,but if food station is put outside it will attract pigeons which ponders end has had problems with in past months.all due to people throwing bread out for them,not just little bits but vast quantities.we've had problems with rats too.But no one has mentioned the health issues because of the doing what all birds do. as usual tesco are doing what they always do rather than deal with issues and thats nothing. paulinebradford
  • Score: 0

11:55pm Fri 4 Jan 13

paulinebradford says...

The birds should have been dealt with when they first appeared,of course cant get the out now its cosy for them plenty of places to hide.I have seen bird droppings in the cafe not alot admitted because they would be cleaned up,but its the thought of them flying around while you sit there.
The birds should have been dealt with when they first appeared,of course cant get the out now its cosy for them plenty of places to hide.I have seen bird droppings in the cafe not alot admitted because they would be cleaned up,but its the thought of them flying around while you sit there. paulinebradford
  • Score: 0

11:29am Sun 6 Jan 13

alhwormley says...

One wonders if it hadn't have been a multi million pound business like Tesco, it would have been shut down on hygiene grounds. I'm sure a small cafe or takeaway would have been.
One wonders if it hadn't have been a multi million pound business like Tesco, it would have been shut down on hygiene grounds. I'm sure a small cafe or takeaway would have been. alhwormley
  • Score: 0

1:43pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Uncle Dikz says...

Yee Haa!BANG BANG BANG BANG!

Every little helps!
Yee Haa!BANG BANG BANG BANG! Every little helps! Uncle Dikz
  • Score: 0

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