RSPB condemns ‘vile’ coot killers at Hackney park

Hackney residents are being asked to help catch thugs who have stoned to death a nest of coot chicks and their mother.

As the Hackney Gazette reported the incident last week has shocked people who had been keeping an eye on the nest and family who had made their home on the River Lea adjoining Millfields Park, off the busy Leabridge Road.

The RSPB has warned that anyone responsible for killing the birds faces a serious penalty if caught- with up to six months in jail and fines of up to �5,000 per offence.

Bird charity RSPB London’s Tim Webb said: “This incident has shocked and dismayed local park users and residents. It’s a park I know well and use with my family as we live nearby. A lot of effort has gone in to improving it over the past five years and this vile act is just so completely removed from the ethos and pride shown by all those who’ve contributed to that improvement, that it seems wholly alien.”

Coots are common water birds, black in colour with a distinctive white beak and shield above the beak, which gives them the title of ‘bald’. Like all other wild birds in England and Wales the water fowl are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Mr Webb warned that anyone found guilty of intentionally killing, injuring or taking wild birds, or even damaging or disturbing them or their eggs on their nests can be prosecuted. The offence carries a maximum six months imprisonment and fines of �5,000 per offence.

“In the case of the coots those responsible could potentially be jailed and fined for each chick and bird killed, so the fine could mount up to a considerable sum.

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“These incidents, and the recent destruction of some swans eggs further down the river near Leabank Square, are repugnant criminal acts. I’d urge all park and river-path users to help us stamp out this barbaric behaviour”.

The incident has been recorded by the RSPB’s Investigations Unit and anyone with information should contact Hackney Police on 0300 123 1212 or to the RSPB at