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Geese poo problem at Hall Place prompts petition

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 May 2019

There have been complaints about the mess left by geese at Hall Place and Gardens. Picture: Bexley Council

There have been complaints about the mess left by geese at Hall Place and Gardens. Picture: Bexley Council

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Wildlife campaigners are calling for geese to be protected after claims birds were being "discouraged" from a Bexley tourist attraction due to excessive complaints about poo.

A recently launched petition to protect the geese has been backed by nearly 150 people. Picture: Ken MearsA recently launched petition to protect the geese has been backed by nearly 150 people. Picture: Ken Mears

Bexley Council said it has had to step in to deal with an "extraordinary influx" of Canada geese at Hall Place and Gardens that are damaging flowers and the river bed.

The attraction, which is managed by the council, has said that there have been complaints over the amount of geese poo.

The council has stopped selling bird food at the site and used a handheld laser to move the geese away.

Keen birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts have criticised the council for "discouraging wildlife" from the popular historic spot.

A recently launched petition to protect the geese has been backed by nearly 150 people.

It reads: "Geese have always been part of the Hall Place experience and we are horrified to hear that you have been discouraging them from your gardens due to a few complaints about goose poo.

"Countless visitors have enjoyed observing and photographing the geese with their goslings over the years.

"Loss of habitat poses the greatest threat to species; our wildlife is having a really bad time and what chance does any of it have if our gardens, once a haven for these birds, are now knowingly discouraging them from staying and breeding?"

The council recently announced a £600k investment in Hall Place in a bid to drive up visitors and get the site making profit.

A spokesman said it was "untrue" to say wildlife was being discouraged from the historic manor house.

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"Wildlife on site is a very important part of what we do at Hall Place and Gardens and we wish to encourage it," a spokesman said.

"We have resident Greylags and Egyptian Geese on site all year round and we currently have Geese nesting along the river bank.

"The fact is that Canadian Geese fly in and out over the course of the year, we recently experienced such a large influx that they were damaging the river bank, the flower beds and discouraging other forms of wildlife to flourish.

"Because of this extraordinary influx we took the decision to stop selling bird food.

"A handheld laser device has also been used on occasion on site by a trained member of staff as an agreed humane method of moving on the ever increasing amounts of geese.

"No birds or other wildlife are harmed by its use, it simply moves the geese on and they migrate back at a later date.

"By reducing their visits to the site in this way the balance has been bought to a more manageable level."

Bexley Council took control of the 16th century listed building in 2017, and now plans a new market, woodland-themed playground and relocating the Welling and District Model Engineering Society model railway to the site.

In total it's expected that £600,000 will be spent revitalising the listed attraction in the coming months, which will in some part be offset by a new £2 charge for punters wanting to visit the gardens - which have traditionally been free.

The former stately home, built in 1537 and dubbed one of the south-east's "best kept secrets", has been used in dozens of films and TV shows - with one blockbuster TV series filming there just last month.

So far more than 200 people have backed campaigner Donna Zimmer's petition for the council to protect the site's wildlife.

The petition can be viewed at change.org

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