Threats to dump dead geese at council offices made in ongoing Verulamium Lake criticism

Howard Berry is sick of pulling dead geese out of the lake

Howard Berry is sick of pulling dead geese out of the lake - Credit: Archant

An angry park user is threatening to dump dead ducks from Verulamium Lake in the district council offices unless something is done to clean up the festering waters.

Howard Berry, who walks his three dogs in the park every day, describes the blighted lake as “foul, disgusting, and like a cesspit”.

He says he regularly clears litter from the water and has often pulled “stiff” birds from the scum - he estimates more than 24 times since 2015, and four times in the last month.

But it was the last straw on Monday when he was doing his regular litter pick and he found another dead goose laying facedown in the silt - Howard wedged it in a bin, as he said he has been advised to do and has done before.

Although it was removed by park rangers almost immediately, Howard wanted to speak to SADC officers about the problem.

Howard Berry is sick of pulling dead geese out of the lake

Howard Berry is sick of pulling dead geese out of the lake - Credit: Archant

He arrived at the civic centre in St Peter’s Street and demanded answers as to what was being done. He said a council officer tried to placate him, explaining their long-term goals and partnership with the Environment Agency (EA), to which he responded: “How many years is that going to take? Why wasn’t this done years ago? It’s not a one or two event thing, it’s been going on for years.

“From here on out any birds I find I will take them up, walk through the centre with it, up to the council offices and put them on someone’s desk.”

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She asked what he hoped to achieve, and questioned the legality of those actions, claiming he might contaminate evidence.

Howard told the Herts Ad: “I am completely serious, I don’t know if you are legally allowed to it, but I am serious - maybe if a swan dies then I slap someone across the face with it, something will happen.”

He hopes his new tactic will “shame” the council into action.

He is also thinking of putting up sarcastic posters around the city inviting people to a family fun day swimming in the dirty lake: “Something to make people stand up and take notice - dozens of people will think it looks a bit grim or it’s a bit smelly but people won’t do anything about it.

“How many more birds have to suffer, how many more children have to walk past the lake and see these dead birds?”

Verulamium Lake has been plagued with silt problems over the last few years and attracted criticism for a spate of avian botuliam in 2015.

The bird poo, leaves, and natural material builds up when water does not flow freely through the sluice gates, creating a sticky substance that birds get caught up in.

Around 45 tonnes of the silt was taken away by SADC last summer, out of about 12,000 tonnes in the lake, and signs have been installed asking people not to give the birds food that could pollute the water.

Head of community services at St Albans district council, Debbi White, said people who find dead birds should leave them in the water and report it: “There has been a spate of waterfowl deaths recently at the lakes in Verulamium Park.

“We are working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to keep an eye on the matter.”

She said they have been working with the EA on a long-term solution to problems with the River Ver and Verulamium Lake.

Continuing: “Birds are migratory and fly in and out of the park all the time.

“We would expect to find bodies of birds that have died from natural causes from time to time.”

SADC asks anyone who find a deceased animal should contact 01727 819366.