Duck Off, Rowers!
Animal rights campaigner Lee Culley has pledged to protect birds from harm during the upcoming May Bumps.
Trenton Oldfield, eat your heart out. An animal rights campaigner has threatened to dive in front of Cambridge rowers if they don’t stop their murderous ways.
Lee Culley, 45, says that little birds are being mowed down by students racing their boats. On Tuesday, he dived into the river fully clothed in a failed attempt to save a dying duckling before taking the corpse to those he held responsible.
Mr Culley, who lives in a houseboat, said that this was not even the extent of the problem. Two local swan pairs risk having their entire brood “wiped out” by town and college crews during the upcoming races in Week 7.
Culley, a campaigner with Animal Rights Cambridge, said introducing speed limits in the nesting areas and putting spotters on the riverbank would help solve the problem.
Mr Culley said: “It’s just awful to be on the river and watch these ducklings and cygnets being wiped out when something can easily be done about it.
“They do not stand a chance and they are going to die unless the rowers reduce their speed in the nesting area and have spotters on the riverbank.
“The nesting area is small and the speed limit will only last until the cygnets are big enough to be able to move out of the way.”
Bill Key, president of Cambridgeshire Rowing Association, who said he is also a lifelong member of the RSPB, said rowing played an important role in the health and wellbeing of residents.
He said: “We are all concerned about wildlife but there comes a situation when rowing at anything but racing pace for a large part of the season is unreasonable and defeats an important aspect of the sport.”
Lady Margaret Boat Club Captain Gregor McMillan said: “‘I can’t speak for the entire oar-wielding population of Cambridge, but at Maggie we exercise our reasonable best endeavours in making sure we don’t hit anything. The wildlife also knows to keep an eye out.
‘The problem is much the same as cars and pedestrians. The cars are looking out for the pedestrians and the pedestrians know about cars, but sometimes cars hit pedestrians.
“As for jumping in the river in to save a duckling in the middle of a bumps race, I sincerely hope nobody does that. The car metaphor is pretty apt. Some of the faster Men’s VIIIs weigh more than a small car and can crank it up over 20km/h if need be. The blades are probably more dangerous still.
“Just like diving in front of a car at rush hour, diving in front of the Caius 1st Men’s VIII in an effort to stop bumps would not end well. Reporting incidents through the usual channels might be wiser”
It seems the jury’s out on whether Culley’s plans are just a load of quack.