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Things you don’t expect to read: “Tesco calls in sniper to shoot protected bird in Norfolk store” – The Telegraph

Friday, 19th September 2014

Read here why “Tesco calls in sniper to shoot protected bird in Norfolk store” – The Telegraph.
That’s the headline I saw earlier this week, published on the Telegraph’s website. Bearing in mind this is a “protected bird” (a Pied Wagtail) I thought I’d follow the story and see if I could flush out a response to media coverage, from Tesco.

I first became aware of Tesco’s intentions via Twitter and, soon after, read an article published on the Telegraph’s website (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/11090298/Tesco-calls-in-sniper-to-shoot-protected-bird-in-Norfolk-store.html). The article set the scene: “Tesco threatened to shoot a protected pied wagtail which has been fluttering round one of its supermarkets, prompting outrage from customers, environmentalists and a BBC wildlife presenter.”

Chris Packham was swift to share his opinion, tweeting: "Can I ask you to rethink the shooting of the wagtail in Gt Yarmouth store please. I'm sure the bird could be caught." We entered the fray, under the Bill Oddie’s Bird Food banner (@billsbirdfood) with a gentle yet poignant tweet (gentle, because Tesco are bigger than us) which read: #Tesco calls in sniper to shoot protected bird... @Telegraph http://fw.to/yVw3HKH Don't they know that every little (bird) helps?

And we received this reply from @Tesco via twitter: Tesco ‏@Tesco Sep 17 @billsbirdfood Our goal is to release any birds which find their way into our stores, we'll continue to try to release the bird.

On the face of it, Tesco have played by the rules: they applied for a licence to shoot the bird. Personally, though, I don’t believe alternative ways of dealing with the wagtail (I’m going to give him a name: Willy, Willy the Wagtail) have been explored in full. But let’s “for now” take Tesco’s pledge on face value and accept that they will “continue to try to release the bird.”

If Tesco are trying other ways to release the bird, though, this admission suggests to me that the licence may have been issued prematurely, if this quote, taken from The Telegraph website, is correct: “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.”

Who was “satisfied” all other methods had been exhausted? That’s the question.

I suppose the good news is that, Tesco seem to have gotten over their exhaustion (thanks to Chris Packham, Twitter and The Telegraph) and have taken their finger off the trigger, for now.

Talking of quotes, here’s one from the RSPB: “The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said the loss of the bird would not affect the breed's population and it was not one of "conservation concern".”

So much for every little helps!

Tesco sell a range of bird food in store on behalf of the RSPCA and the bird food range no doubt generates significant profits for Tesco – some of these profits invested in freeing Willy the Wagtail might have been a better public relations exercise than extermination.

Let’s hope it ends well for Willy.

Update: 22 Sept, 2014:  that was due to be shot after nesting in  store is rescued  via  

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