Parakeet cull that costs £1,000 per bird

A government scheme to get rid of a rare species of wild parrot has cost taxpayers almost £1,000 per bird.

In five years £259,000 has been spent trying to eradicate just 62 birds and 212 eggs. It means that taxpayers have been charged £945 for each bird or egg.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said they had not formally approved the eradication scheme, but understood the reasons behind it

Monk parakeets, also known as form of quaker parrots, are native to South America. They have been branded a pest because they can destroy crops and make huge communal nests on buildings and mobile phone masts.

But critics of the scheme claim the population is low with just 77 wild birds in the UK in 2011.

Kate Fowler, the spokesman for campaign group, Animal Aid said: ‘The government seems hellbent on killing a handful of parakeets at significant cost to the taxpayer, and yet its arguments for killing them just don’t add up.

‘There is no evidence that these few birds pose a health risk, nor that they nest on electricity pylons or cause agricultural damage. Instead, the parakeets prefer to feed from suburban bird tables where they are much admired. If it is seriously concerned about monk parakeets living in the wild, you would think the government would stop the birds being imported into the country by the pet trade in the first place.’

The colourful, intelligent birds are a popular pet – and many can talk. But a Government spokesman said they would cause problems if their numbers were allowed to grow, adding that in America up to £3million has been spent removing nests from pylons to avoid power cuts.

A DEFRA spokesman said the birds were humanely killed if it was not possible to rehome them.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said they had not formally approved the eradication scheme, but understood the reasons behind it.

Spokesman Grahame Madge said: ‘We recognise the need that the species could pose a threat and therefore did not object to DEFRA’s plan to remove them.

‘There’s nothing against monk parakeets themselves, they are delightful birds, and full of character.

‘Our climate is changing, and if we get a warming climate in southern Britain, then each year that goes by the climate is getting more favourable for this species.’

The details emerged after the Government’s controversial badger cull was slammed for costing £7.3million – a total of £4,100 for each of the 1,771 badgers killed. A second round of culling began last week.

Monk parakeets live in colonies in London and Hertfordshire, with the highest numbers concentrated in Borehamwood and the Isle of Dogs.

Business analyst Simon Richardson, who headed up a campaign to protect the Borehamwood flock, slammed the cost of the programme.

He said: ‘It’s a ridiculous amount of money. Why are we spending all this money on all these people and departments to pursue these kinds of aims?’

He added there was only one nest in Borehamwood housing just 20 monk parakeets, down from 45.

A spokesman for the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, a DEFRA agency, said the majority of the birds captured had been taken to private aviaries.

He said since 2011, 40 birds had been removed from the wild. Of those, 12 had died and 28 were re-homed.

Article taken from:

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