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Avocet colony at Burton Mere Wetlands is decimated after RSPB’s electric fences fail

The RSPB’s electric fences have failed to prevent an avocet colony at Burton Mere Wetlands being decimated by predation.


Despite having annual income of £164 million the RSPB track record of managing their wildlife reserves is deeply concerning.


In the latest example of the ineffectiveness of their management techniques almost an entire colony of avocets have been wiped out following predation from a likely badger at Burton Mere Wetlands on the Dee Estuary. 


In a bizarre, and somewhat unapologetic blog, the RSPB claimed they were ‘pained, having invested so much energy’ into the project to protect the avocet colony. Furthermore they wrote a new fence had been ‘painstakingly’ installed to protect the avocets, however the fence has once again failed in its purpose.


The blog states: “For the third consecutive year, Burton Mere Wetlands’ waders have suffered considerable impact from the plucky and persistent Badgers. We entered this spring with high hopes that the new electric fence would help steer the reserve back to its best for breeding waders, with peaks of over 200 pairs achieved a few years ago.


The renewed wooden posts and otherwise improved fence design was intended to eliminate Badgers (and Foxes), yet this weekend’s events show that despite this investment, the “honeypot” effect created inside the fence is attractive enough for Badgers to have already outsmarted it. Despite the constant efforts of the warden team testing the electric current and monitoring for signs of digging or interference, the Badgers have found a way through – or more accurately, over.”

How much charitable money was spent on the new fence is unknown. It is technology that has known to have had limited success in the past, with countless examples of available of foxes and badgers being able to break through them.


Others have also criticised the charity for ‘painfully electrocuting badgers’ with the fences, suggesting the charge used is high, but not so high as to be an effective deterrent.


The RSPB then conclude their blog with an extraordinary admission of guilt: “Additional electric wire to deter climbing, and extended mesh around access gates – classic weak spots – will be added as short-term remedial measures in the next week or so, before a thorough review in the autumn with some potentially substantial improvements to be made”.


This would suggest the fencing wasn’t even set up to an adequate level, and the mesh had not initially been extended around access gates. Such errors undermine the entire purpose of a fence in the first place and begs the questions why these basic mistakes keep happening on RSPB reserves?

Without a hint of irony the charity then try to use the wipeout as a fundraising tool to appeal for further funds.


Ironically in the same week RSPB CEO Beccy Speight, made a post on X, saying: Dawn Chorus Day was a common, shared joy but it is becoming something you increasingly need to go to a nature reserve to hear today.


In reality the vast majority of birds live on managed farmland and moors, not nature reserves and certainly not ones which rely on an RSPB electric fence to prevent predation.




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