Heath move is fine for anglers, but what about the swans?

THE Heath consultative committee has approved the proposal to remove protection from cygnets, as anticipated in last week s article (Anglers hook an important change to rules on Heath, H&H March 13). Since about 1994 fishing has been prohibited on ponds d

THE Heath consultative committee has approved the proposal to remove protection from cygnets, as anticipated in last week's article (Anglers hook an important change to rules on Heath, H&H March 13). Since about 1994 fishing has been prohibited on ponds during the cygnet season and until October. This came about because swans and their young were being injured or killed by fishing tackle.

The paper presented argued that dogs are a greater danger, that Hampstead was unique in thus protecting waterfowl (not only swans but grebes, etc, suffer) - this latter taken as a reason to ditch the rule 'for a trial period of one year', at the end of which there will be a body count of dead cygnets.

Superintendent Simon Lee stated that "We lost a lot of cygnets last year" - yet this was not enlarged on. The public cannot speak at such meetings but sit mute - and in this case, dismayed. Committee members were given two weeks' notice of this agenda item so those who actively represent members had no time for any discussions, but that was no impediment to their craven support for the measure.

Desperately seeking praise, the report noted that fishing is very popular, providing 'a quality recreational experience' - for the fisher if not for the fish. The catch is not eaten but put back for another day. All very sad really.


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Perhpas the management committee on March 31 may take a more realistic view - that the welfare of the cygnets is best served by keeping the present rule. Meanwhile it is the close season for fishing on the Heath so the swans can delight us till mid-June.

SKIP MURPHY

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Prince of Wales Road, NW1

Anglers already have six out of nine large Heath ponds. Does this mean more tents, lost hooks and more wildlife killed in angling-related accidents?

Lifting the ban when swans are breeding is disgusting. Swans are parents and are supposed to be protected. Along comes botanist David Bellamy from the Hampstead Heath Angling Society - formed only a year ago, and everything changes. What about the RSPB views and, most of all, us the public?

RON VESTER

Belsize Park, NW3

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