Wagtail in Great Yarmouth Tesco given last-minute reprieve

A wagtail. Photo: Simon Finlay

A wagtail. Photo: Simon Finlay - Credit: Archant © 2008

A bird that made its home in a Great Yarmouth supermarket has been given a last-minute reprieve after the store threatened to shoot it.

Tesco Extra in Great Yarmouth.

Tesco Extra in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Archant © 2008

Tesco considered bringing in marksmen to kill the wagtail in its Great Yarmouth branch, but have now announced that it will continue attempting to release the bird.

The feathered friend, a common wagtail, has been flitting around the store for some time, and has become known to customers.

Click the image above to find out more about the Wagtail.


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Staff made repeated attempts to get the bird outside by laying down traps, nets, opening windows and even trying to lure it out with food.

But the nimble creature stayed put and the supermarket giant said it had to draw a line and was bringing in professionals to shoot the bird.

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However, after public outcry over the plight of the bird, the supermarket changed its decision.

A Tesco spokesman said: Our goal is always 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 bird including laying down traps, deploying nets and opening windows, we have been unsuccessful so far.

'We're going to continue to try to release the bird over the next few weeks.'

The supermarket giant was granted a licence to remove the bird by shooting it from Natural England on the grounds of protecting public health, but plans to bring marksmen into the Pasteur Road store have now been shelved.

A spokesman for Natural England said licences, such as the one granted to Tesco, were issued 'occasionally' but only when environment bosses were 'satisfied' all other methods had been exhausted.

The spokesman said: 'Fouling by birds can contaminate foods destined for human consumption, constituting a serious health risk.

'As such, licences are occasionally issued to remove birds to protect public health and safety, where those measures do not harm the conservation status of the species. 'Natural England must be satisfied all reasonable non-lethal methods - such as trapping and scaring - have been tried and proven ineffective before a licence to remove the bird is issued.'

Springwatch's Chris Packham even weighed in, tweeting: 'Tescos in Great Yarmouth are calling in marksmen to shoot a Wagtail this weekend under licence by Natural England. Every little dies .'

On hearing the news the bird had been saved, he posted: 'All @Tesco are going to work with @_BTO to try again to catch the Wag' and the guns are stood down. Result and thank you all for lobbying'.

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