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Youths blamed for luring gulls to death in wind turbines

Heartless youths have been accused of mutilating and massacring seagulls by luring them to their deaths in wind turbines.

Bird lovers in the town had complained to the Evening Mail about the high death toll caused by the wind turbine outside Tesco’s store off Hindpool Road in Barrow.

But the superstore giant now claims many of the deaths are down to youngsters who entice the birds into the whirling blades by throwing food into air.

A Tesco spokesperson claims there are plans to solve the issue and the company is taking the problem seriously.

The issue first came to light when a Walney couple in the Tesco car park said they were showered with gull remains as they exited their car during a lunch break trip to the store. Then, Barrovian bird lover Pat Denny, who has nursed many injured birds back to health at her home, claimed around 40 birds had been killed by the rotors.

But Tesco, which plans a six month monitoring programme to count the numbers of dead, says Ms Denny’s statistics are wide of the mark.

Tesco claims just 20 birds have fallen foul of the turbines since records began in May.

Neil Bland, Tesco’s engineering manager for energy, said: “We are employing an ornithology specialist company to monitor the birds’ flying patterns and changes to behaviour.

“We have anecdotal evidence of nine bird deaths up to early May, 2007. Since proper records, including photo graphs, have been taken, a further 11 deaths have been logged.

“This in total is less than half of the number reported by Ms Denny.

“Another problem high lighted is children throwing food into the air, causing gulls to swoop and they can then be hit by the blades of the turbines.”

Tesco also claims scraps of food and litter in the car park are responsible for bring ing the birds to the car park, which they use as a feeding area.

Mr Bland said: “The biggest problem is that the birds like to feed around our store and we will need to encourage more of the people using our car park not to drop any litter or scraps of food because this attracts the gulls.

“We will liaise with Barrow’s planners as we monitor the number of bird strikes.

“We are now implementing a regular clean-up operation, and also discouraging children from actively trying to kill the birds.”

Birdlife expert Russell Marsh, of the World Wildlife Federation in Britain, said: “Fewer birds fly into turbines than fly into windows or cars.

“The only concern is that they not be located on a migration route. Otherwise, birds live harmoniously with wind farms.” They learn to fly around them.”

Tesco got planning permission and had RSPB backing when it installed the two turbines earlier this year.

Solutions mooted include encasing the turbines in a fabric mesh to stop birds approaching.