WEST CUMBERLAND FISHERY BOARD.
THE BLACK-HEADED GULL CONTROVERSY.
The monthly meeting of the members of this Board was held on Thursday afternoon last, at the clerk's office, Scotch-street. There were present: --
MR. J. MUSGRAVE, J.P., C.A. (chairman); DR. BRAITHWAITE, J.P., MESSRS. J. LINDOW, J.P., C.C.; W. B. TURNER, J.P.; W. H. WATSON, J.P., and J. GRICE; with MR. J. WEBSTER (clerk).
THE BLACK-HEADED GULL.
The CLERK read a letter from the clerk to the County Council re the Board's application that the Council would rescind the order giving protection to the black-headed gull. The Council stated that as the result of inquiries, they could not see their way to interfere with the existing order.
The CHAIRMAN said he felt sure that the Conservators would be surprised at the decision come to by the County Council. There was no doubt that as far as their district was concerned, the black-headed gulls were very destructive. They did great injury to their rivers, and he was surprised that the General Purposes Committee of the County Council did not give them an opportunity of producing evidence on the point.
They stated they had taken steps to inquire into the matter, but they had never consulted those who complained. He suggested that some member should give notice that the question be further considered at the next meeting of the Board. If that was done, he thought they would have no difficulty in proving that as far as their district was concerned, the gull was doing much harm to them.
DR. BRAITHWAITE said he would move that the Board discuss the letter from the County Council at their next meeting.
MR. WATSON said he was very pleased to see the decision that the County Council had come to, as to their childish application. They had come to the right conclusion, and he was surprised the Board were not prepared to accept the conclusion arrived at.
DR. BRAITHWAITE: Because they don't believe you, MR. WATSON.
MR. GRICE seconded the motion. He was not at all of the opinion of MR. WATSON. Only the other day he saw great numbers of these birds following down their rivers, and although he could not see what they were doing, he felt certain they were making away with their fish.
MR. LINDOW: I questioned the chairman of the General Purposes Committee at the County Council meeting, and was not at all satisfied with the manner in which he met the case.
MR. TURNER said he was not convinced that the black-headed gull was as destructive of fish as they made it out to be, while there was no doubt it was most useful to the farmer, as it followed the plough, and they ought to be very careful indeed before they committed themselves.
MR. WATSON: I quite agree with MR. TURNER.
CHAIRMAN: There are different classes of gulls, MR. TURNER, and I don't believe the black-headed gull does any good.
MR. TURNER: But the black-headed gull loses its colour at certain seasons of the year.
THE CHAIRMAN: I should be glad to learn that he lost his head. I know that he comes up into Wasdale and does great damage.
MR. WATSON said the action of the Board had been most absurd. At the very time they were petitioning that protection should be withdrawn, the North Riding of Yorkshire were taking steps to secure the protection they complained of. He held they had proceeded on insufficient evidence and had not made sufficient inquiries before coming to a decision.
He had been a close observer of them for years, and he had never seen them take the fish, but he had seen how useful they had been in destroying the insect life which proved so detrimental to agriculture.
DR. BRAITHWAITE said he had no doubt that plenty of evidence could be procured by next meeting as to the destructive habits of the gulls.
MR. GRICE also held that the evidence would be against MR. WATSON's contention. By next meeting , he might shoot one or two of the birds for scientific purposes, and they would see what the result would be. There were always plenty of the birds astir in their neighbourhood.
DR. BRAITHWAITE's motion was then carried, MR. WATSON not voting.