Canadian geese spark health and safety fears at King’s Lynn’s Palm Paper
16:46 01 June 2012
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Bosses at King’s Lynn’s Palm Paper are in a flap over how to remove 60 Canadian geese which pose a health and safety threat to their equipment and staff.
The firm has recruited an agency to catch the birds and transfer them to another site but with so many non-native birds around their site, bosses admit this could take a “long time”.
And with the threat of the geese flying into the path of lorries or crashing into machinery, a cull was not ruled out last night if the “pests” can’t be caught.
Mick Becketts, human resources director at Palm Paper, said: “We had a similar problem last year. We had two families of geese then and netting was used to remove them but this year we have more than 60 birds.
“It’s not our preferred option to pointlessly cull the geese. We want to remove them to another marshland site where they can get on with their lives and we can get on with ours and never see each other again.”
One of the planning conditions for the mill, which opened in 2009, was to look after a seven hectare wildlife reserve for native species which, according to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, is thriving. Palm Paper would also have to apply to Natural England for a licence if they wanted to cull the geese.
Mr Becketts continued: “Last year the geese were in such a small area that it was easy to remove them.
“But we have an 110 acre site here and there are 70 acres which are ideal for them and they are spread out across our site so it will be difficult to net them.
“We have vehicles travelling around the site throughout the day and a lot of machinery and if any geese were to fly into equipment or lorries then it would not only be dangerous for them but also for our employees.
“Another method we considered was using audio devices but this would impact other wildlife including the Marsh harrier population on site.”.”
He added: “We have got an agency coming in over the next couple of weeks to have a look.
“If we notice any changes in flight patterns or if they are not flying at all, then we will get them is sooner to remove all of them but we could be in for a long wait.”
He added: “We want to get the number of Canadian geese down to a more manageable number without shooting them.
“To stop us having so many geese next year, we will cut back the grass on areas around our site excluding the dedicated wildlife reserve.”
The site boasts a large grassing area at the front of the building as well as a grand reedbed which is visited by a Norfolk Wildlife Trust volunteer every Saturday.
John Hiskett, conservation officer at the trust, said: “We had meetings with them about managing the wildlife site they own but have nothing recorded about this problem. We discussed a variety of things at these informal meetings but the trust would not suggest or advise a cull.”