Thursday 21 December 2017

Critics pooh-pooh use of spikes in trees to protect cars from birds

Bristol council says it cannot intervene after spikes fixed to branches of trees on private property to prevent bird mess, writes Steven Morris in the Guardian. Read on:

Spikes have been fixed to trees in a leafy neighbourhood of Bristol in an attempt to prevent birds perching there and creating a mess on residents’ cars.

The spikes, of the sort normally seen on the ledges of buildings to ward off pigeons, have been spotted on trees in Clifton, near the wildlife-rich Downs and the Avon gorge.

Many Bristol residents have expressed outrage and a Green councillor has vowed to take up the issue with the city council.

One resident said there was a big problem with bird droppings on cars in the area. Photograph: Tom Wren /
One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “The spikes are solely to protect the cars [parked under the trees]. There is a big problem with bird droppings around here. They can really make a mess of cars, and for some reason the birds do seem to congregate around this area.

“We did try other methods to scare off the birds. I think we had a wooden bird of prey in the branches, but that didn’t seem to do anything.”

Paula O’Rourke, a local Green party councillor, said: “I’m aware that the landowner might be legally within their rights to do this to the trees as they seem to be on private land.

“However, I will be looking into this at the council. Whether allowed or not though, it looks awful and it’s a shame to see trees being literally made uninhabitable to birds – presumably for the sake of car parking.

“Sometimes it’s too easy to lose sight of the benefit that we all gain from trees and green spaces and from the presence of wildlife around us in the city.”

Jennifer Garrett, a nature lover and writer, called it a “war on wildlife”. “Now birds are not allowed in trees … How is it allowed?” she tweeted.

A spokesperson for Bristol city council said the trees were on private property and not subject to a tree protection order, so there was nothing the local authority could do. The spokesperson said the spikes had been in place for a number of years.

Jeff Knot, the RSPB’s head of nature policy, said: “Nature is in trouble and needs our help more than ever. We have all seen recent TV programmes or reports in the media telling us that nature is facing a struggle to survive.

“In fact, the recent State of Nature report highlights that more than half of all wildlife in the UK has declined over the past 40 years. Instead of looking at ways we can force nature into an ever smaller space, we should look at how we can live alongside wildlife and help give it a home in our villages, towns and cities.”

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