Today they tell us that Four thousand Ruddy ducks are to be culled in the UK to satisfy Spanish conservationalists.

The Ruddy duck, introduced here more than 50 years ago from North America is migrating to the continent ( not daft ! ) and is breeding with the white headed duck,an endangered species with its main colony in Spain. The 5 million pound operation which is likely to involve 20 marksmen ( rings a bell ! ) armed with shotguns and equiped with power boats ( not quad bikes this time then ) could take ten years to complete..........

This is an interesting bit " And in a move which will infuriate landowners,conservationists and local authorities,many of whom oppose the slaughter,cull managers are seeking powers to go on to private land without the owner's permission if necesssary.

Such compulsion carries chilling echoes of the foot and mouth epidemic,where government slaughtermen were empowered to go onto farmland ( and private dwellings ! ) to kill livestock at risk...............

A government report argues that rights of access to land -particularly 40 key sites- would be vital to a successful cull " It is unlikely that voluntary access will be granted for all such sites, and powers of compulsory access for them might need to be considered to ensure success within a reasonable time ' it says." ( SI843 ?).........." The ruddy duck is notoriously difficult to shoot, as it tends to dive rather than fly when alarmed."

( Call in the Army again then. Good lobbing grenade practice for when Bush tells us to go to war on Iraq. )

" Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler said : ' This is a callous, very expensive and anti-democratic exercise in the genetic-cleansing of nature. ( ring ! ) In an earlier REHAERSAL ( on what ?) for this slaughter, government officials admitted that birds had to be shot as many as 13 times and took as long as two hours to die" ( ring ! )