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Thousands of Duck Eggs Destroyed for Being a Supposed Threat to Cyclists

By Monica Buck

Natural England is the UK’s government’s adviser on environment. It claims to be responsible for ensuring that England’s land, flora and fauna are protected and improved. However, as the Independent reported, the organization has given the go-ahead to the destruction of 4,500 mallard eggs in three years.

The reason was “a safety concern” as there was “a high number of people cycling and the ducks often walk out in front of them”. One of the applicants for a licence to destroy the eggs claimed that the mallard population had risen dramatically and that the birds congregated around seating areas. The faeces and the risk of a collision with cyclists were thought to be a problem.

Cyclist walks beside a pond in the in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam with ducks and coots. © deadlyphoto.com / Alamy / Profimedia

Naturally, this caused an uproar both in and outside the cycling community. The public branded the decision “lunacy” and the reasoning “idiotic”. Documents seen by the Independent suggest the egg-wrecking happens at a site in Bedfordshire and another site in Suffolk. In 2017-18, Natural England gave the green light to wreck 2,000 mallard eggs and 300 geese eggs in Suffolk, according to the papers.

Mr Endfield, leader of a campaign to reform Natural England’s licensing system, wrote: “I am struggling to find the words to express my disbelief and despair that Natural England decision-makers thought it appropriate in any way to issue a licence to an applicant that seriously considered ducks to be a threat to cyclists. Surely someone at the agency should have challenged this stupidity at an early stage rather than proceed to issue a licence that legitimised the wanton destruction of wild birds eggs for such spurious reasons.”

What do you think about the situation? Have you ever been threatened by a duck?