Jet ski contest causes wildlife mayhem

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Angry wildlife lovers have hit out against a watersports competition which killed fish and birds at a Doncaster beauty spot.

Upset nature enthusiasts say a jet ski contest held at Doncaster’s Lakeside at the weekend wrecked nests, smashed eggs and left several animals dead in the water.

Now they are calling for action in a bid to prevent a repeat of the mayhem at a similar event planned later in the year.
And even the Queen’s official swan master has become involved in the row, demanding answers about the threat to wildlife.

Richard Brook, who was one of those to discover the carnage, said: “Nests were obliterated and some of the chicks had been killed and swept into the water. I am very upset and annoyed. The wildlife down there has free run of the lake 365 days a year, yet the calm is destroyed by all this madness and chaos. Its disgraceful.”

The Jet Sport Racing Association staged round four of the British Championships 2013 across the weekend with more than 50 racers, including British, European and World title holders taking part.

Mr Brook said after the first day’s racing, a nest he had been monitoring for several weeks had been destroyed and he attempted to rebuild it using twigs to help the fledgling birds within, but several of the birds died while others were missing. He also saw a dead fish floating in the water with its tail severed.

He added: “The swans on the lake seemed distressed, the geese had left and the chicks, which had only hatched a few days before, had been washed away. It is sad that we encourage birds to make their home and Lakeside and then treat them like this. It could have all been avoided with a bit of proper planning.”

Business couple David Woollass and Christine Poulter also witnessed the chaos and took the step of contacting The Queen’s keeper of swans David Barber to alert him to the misery.

Said Christine: “He wanted to know what steps had been taken to protect the swans and cygnets. But there don’t appear to have been any. It is the middle of nesting season and this happened in the middle of Doncaster. It is absolutely atrocious. They are back again in August and something has to be done to ensure there is no repeat.”

Mr Woollass, who had taken a number of terminally ill people along to the lake for a day out, said: “They were in tears. The waves were washing away the nests. What idiots allow events like this to take place without thinking of the wildlife?”

RSPB spokesman Chris Collett said that it was illegal to intentionally kill or injure wild birds and added: “Things like this aren’t illegal. We don’t have the powers to prevent an event happening - it is up to the police to decide if it will cause a problem, but we would voice our concerns if we felt there was a threat to wildlife.”

Peter Dale, Doncaster Council’s Director of Regeneration and Environment, said: “This is the second year this popular event has taken place in Doncaster and it is a welcome addition to our growing number of visitor attractions and events.

“The council worked closely with the organisers to ensure everything was done to protect the wildlife with the course carefully designed to keep jet skiers a considerable distance from nesting birds. A large buoy was also put in place in the warm up area to restrict competitors from going close to a nest.

“The weather at the weekend was windy which created choppy conditions and this together with the rising water levels could have contributed to any wildlife incidents.

“We were not aware at the time of the event of any situation that was likely to have a detrimental effect on the wildlife and no birds were reportedly injured during the weekend’s event.”

The Star contacted the Jet Sport Racing Association but no-one was available for comment. The event is due to return to Lakeside in August.