Tesco wagtail: Marksman's gun 'stood down'

Tesco Extra, Great Yarmouth Image copyright Google
Image caption Great Yarmouth Tesco was granted a licence to shoot the bird "for the purpose of preserving public health"

Plans to employ a marksman to shoot a small bird living in a Tesco shop in Norfolk have been put on hold after criticism from TV star Chris Packham.

The BBC Springwatch presenter tweeted his opposition to the plan to shoot the pied wagtail at a Great Yarmouth branch of the supermarket chain.

A Tesco spokesman said repeated efforts to free the bird which posed a "hygiene" risk were unsuccessful.

The shop had been granted a licence to shoot the bird by Natural England.

Image copyright BBC/Jo Charlesworth
Image caption Chris Packham said he was "horrified" by plans to shoot the bird when experts could catch it instead

The Tesco spokesman said the pied wagtail moved into the Great Yarmouth shop a few weeks ago.

He said: "In spite of repeated efforts to free the bird including laying down traps, deploying nets and opening windows, we have been unsuccessful.

"Our goal is always to release any birds which have found their way into our stores, while ensuring we maintain our high standards of hygiene."

Pied wagtail

Image copyright Andy Hay/RSPB

•It is a long-tailed black and white bird

•It is 18cm (7in) long and weighs 21g (0.74oz)

•When standing still it can be seen wagging its tail up and down

•It frequently calls when in its undulating flight

•It gathers at dusk to form large roosts in city centres

•The species can be found across the UK

Source: RSPB and BTO

Mr Packham said he was "horrified" at news the bird would be shot on Sunday night because "there are experts at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) who could catch this bird".

A Tesco spokesman said the company would now "continue to try to release the bird over the next few weeks" and would liaise with the BTO, which is based in Thetford, Norfolk.

Mr Packham then tweeted: "The guns are stood down. Result."

Natural England said it could grant licences to shoot birds where there was a serious health risk to humans, provided it does "not harm the conservation status of the species".

In 2012, it granted licences to shoot 1,332 birds on public health and safety grounds.

The organisation said it "must be satisfied that all reasonable non-lethal methods... have been tried and proven ineffective before a licence to remove the bird is issued".

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