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Park's geese campaign wins national award

28/11/2012

A CAMPAIGN that urged people to rethink their bird feeding habits and help tackle the excessive number of geese on a local country park has won a national award.

Leicester City Council launched the campaign on Watermead Park to deal with the problem of greedy geese congregating on the popular country park. Due to the availability of food brought by visitors - most of which was unsuitable for birds - the goose population at the park was growing to such an extent that there was a risk it was squeezing out other wildfowl.

The geese were also causing problems in the car park, and the large amounts of dung they left posed a real risk of slipping or infection.

New signs were put up around the park to encourage more responsible bird feeding, in clearly marked areas away from the car park. Parks officers and city wardens handed out information leaflets to visitors and offered to swap any bread, or other unsuitable food, brought to feed the geese for healthy pellet food.

During the first eight weeks of the campaign, around 2,400 people were approached and over 1,400kg of unsuitable food collected or swapped for pellets.

In the weeks following the campaign, city wardens issued four fixed penalty notices for leaving excessive amounts of food in the car park.

Initial feedback from park users and local wildlife groups is that the campaign has had a positive impact on the numbers of Canada Geese that come to park to feed.

At an ceremony last night (27 November), the campaign was announced as the winner of the Keep Britain Tidy Network's 'Innovation Award'.

Cllr Piara Singh Clair, Assistant City Mayor for heritage, leisure and sport, sport, said: "The geese on Watermead Park were becoming such a problem, particularly in the car park, that some people were put off visiting.

"Parks officers clearly had the right approach with this campaign. The majority of visitors were happy to help us tackle this problem by cutting out unsuitable food.

"I'm really pleased that Keep Britain Tidy recognise the innovative approach taken. It is a credit to staff involved and I'm delighted that we have won this award."

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