We encountered yet another victim of anti-bird netting this evening.
Our volunteer Fran just happened to be passing this block of flats in Kidbrooke when she noticed a crow frantically trying to escape the netting on a seventh floor balcony. The decaying bodies of multiple other birds, previous victims of the netting, were also visible.
We were not very hopeful that we would be able to gain access to that particular flat as the lights were off and the balcony clearly wasn't in regular use. Whilst a resident kindly buzzed us into the building itself and another pointed us in the direction of the correct flat, as we feared, there were no answers to our initial knocks on the door, and we began to despair. Watching the crow flail around in terror on the balcony from a window and feeling powerless to help was momentarily awful.
Another stroke of good luck came our way, however - we decided to knock a second time and bumped into the resident on the way home. This person very kindly allowed us access to the balcony where after a brief struggle, we managed to free the crow and get him safely in a carrier. He laid splayed on his back at first so we feared the worst, but once the shock had worn off seemed to be in okay health, just badly dehydrated, with some frayed feathers.
Whilst rescuing the crow, it as most upsetting to see the large number of dead and decomposing pigeons entangled in the netting on the balcony, which the council had installed with no input from the resident, who did not use it. The bodies were literally crunching underfoot as we worked, as there was simply no avoiding them.
This person was clearly quite vulnerable and no effort was being made by those responsible for the building to maintain this netting, to ensure a safe and hygienic environment for an at-risk person - free of rotting bodies! - whilst also adhering to the Animal Welfare Act. Once again, it is not legally nor morally acceptable to subject any animal to a long, drawn out painful death from being trapped or entangled. Even seven floors up, the entangled birds are clearly visible from the street, which is how Fran spotted them in the first place - so why has this been allowed to go on for so long?
We have taken the resident's phone number and promised to keep an eye for any more entangled birds, and help him to reinforce the netting in a way that so many birds will become trapped, as it's clear this just won't be addressed otherwise.
It's so frustrating seeing this scenario repeated again and again. The Animal Welfare Act is being blatantly broken all over our borough, every day. Animals are suffering cruel and painful deaths, every day.