They say a picture’s worth a thousand words… and now it’s the latest way of telling Eastern European immigrants how to behave in this country.

For months now fishery bailiff Jo Edwards (44) has been plagued by immigrants stealing swans and ducks for the pot.

“But every time I try to explain to them that they can’t just treat our waters as a larder they just pretend they don’t understand.”

She added “I know they’re from Eastern Europe because I’ve spoken to them when I’ve been there trying to look after the swans.”

So now Jo and colleagues from the Luton angling club are asking British Waterways – who own Grand Union canal at Leighton Buzzard – if they can put up signs like this(pictured) to make their point.

Said Jo “It’s the only way. On one occasion there were four of them fishing and they’d already taken a fish without putting it back. Then they got the swan round the neck and pulled it back up on to the bank and the four of them were fighting with it, but luckily it was strong enough to pull away. Next week when I went there the swan had gone. I bailiff the canal and every month or so I see bits of the neck left on the towpath.”

Jo says she’s reported the incidents to the Environment Agency and British Waterways but nothing has been done.

She added “It’s not just the swans. We use to have lots of their favourite fish – carp – there but they’ve nearly all gone now. There used to be loads of swans on the canal but they’ve also gone now – and even the number of ducks seems to be less.”

So serious have the fish thefts become that the club no longer puts on its website where the best catches have been made on their 12 mile stretch of the canal. “They’d just log on and go for those spots” said Jo.

Now the idea of the signs is being put to British Waterways.

Said Jo “They just need to be there so there’s no doubt about it that the swans and ducks and fish aren’t there just for the taking.”

The Environment Agency said it had also heard reports from Ely in Cambridgshire of immigrants found trying to stuff ducks into sacks by the river. They were foiled by a lone lady Eileen Barton wielding a walking stick.

Eugene Baston, External Relations officer for British Waterways said “It’s cheering that Leighton Buzzard locals care for the waterways wildlife in this way and we think the idea of erecting these signs to overcome the language barrier is interesting.  We’d like to talk to the angling club about it. 

Organisations such as the RSPCA and RSPB also need to be involved since they have powers beyond those of BW to prosecute when these types of distressing incidents take place”.


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