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Monday, April 25, 2011

Wild parakeets could be culled before their population runs 'out of control'

By Daily Mail Reporter

Parakeets living wild in Britain could be culled because they pose a threat to native wildlife and are damaging food crops.

The green, yellow and grey birds are originally from South America but are living wild in the south of England after being released from captivity in the 90s.

But conservationists have called on the animals to be rehomed rather than shot.

Only 100 to 150 of the 30cm tall bird live in the UK, mainly in the Home Counties, but the decision has been taken to exterminate them.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: 'Control work is being carried out as part of a Defra initiative to counter the potential threat monk parakeets pose to critical national infrastructure, crops and native British wildlife.

'This invasive species has caused significant damage in other countries through nesting and feeding activity and we are taking action now to prevent this happening in the UK.'

But a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds told the Daily Telegraph: 'They (parakeets) have the potential to expand rapidly and could pose a threat to agriculture and public safety because of the nests causing structural problems to the electricity supply.

'But we do not believe they should be shot.'

Unlike its relative the ring-necked parakeet, which is the UK's only naturalised parrot, the doomed species builds huge communal nests.

Identified by its green upperparts, yellowish belly, pale grey face and breast and pale bill, the monk parakeets also make raucous calls.

A danger? Defra says it may have to cull the birds but conservationists say they should be rehomed instead

In America, nests built on electricity utility structures have been known to cause power cuts, particularly when they become wet from rain.

Extensive damage to crops has also been reported in both North and South America.

The Defra spokesman added: "Non-native invasive species deprive the British economy of £1.7 billion every year."

Later, Defra said culling the birds would only be a last resort.

A spokesman said: "Where possible the control measures will mean trapping the birds and rehousing them safely, or moving their nests.

'Only if these measures are unsuccessful or not appropriate will a culling of some Monk Parakeets be considered.'



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