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Poison threat on the chicken roundabout

PUBLISHED: 07:30 30 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:07 22 October 2010

Pets could be killed and children made ill by large amounts of poison being put down at Norfolk's famous chicken roundabout. A mystery poisoner is leaving the toxic substance at the A143 junction at Ditchingham, despite assurances from the local council that it has the local rat population under control.

Pets could be killed and children made ill by large amounts of poison being put down at Norfolk's famous chicken roundabout.

A mystery poisoner is leaving the toxic substance at the A143 junction at Ditchingham, despite assurances from the local council that it has the local rat population under control.

Officials at South Norfolk District Council are concerned that whoever is dropping the poison might be trying to kill the chickens.

In June last year, local people noticed a rise in the number of rats living in the area, blaming the increase on food left out for the chickens to eat.

But despite coming to an agreement with a longstanding chicken feeder and putting controls in place to reduce the rat population, officers have discovered that relatively large amounts of a rat poison they have not been using has been spread widely around the site.

Chris Tubby, the council's environment protection manager, said the poison was being eaten by the chickens, and could kill them, as well as being a threat to human health and pets. "Whoever is doing this, and we don't know who it is, must stop now.

"We have the rats under control," he said. "This irresponsible behaviour is dangerous to local children and domestic animals. It will also kill the chickens, and although we don't know who this person is, we fear that is their intention.

"We have respected the wishes of local people and made it clear from the start that our rat baiting programme is designed to kill rats not chickens and it is working," added Mr Tubby. "The person involved in spreading this rat poison is also acting illegally and could find themselves prosecuted as well as liable for damages that could result."

John Smith, clerk of Ditchingham Parish Council, said he had reported the poison to the council.

"It was like someone had emptied a bag of sugar," he said.

"But the rats haven't really been a problem since they were dealt with so effectively by South Norfolk."

He added that many people were fond of the chickens that give the roundabout its name, adding that they had "put Ditchingham on the map everywhere from Tasmania to Timbuctoo".

Gordon Knowles, who has fed chickens at the Ditchingham roundabout for more than 50 years, provides chicken food on trays, which he then removes, taking uneaten food with him to prevent rats picking off any leftovers.

The council is warning members of the public using the roundabout not to touch any powder or granulated material that they see in the area.

Anyone with information about who is responsible for putting down the poison should call the council's environmental protection team on 01508 533708.


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