Public pressure halts swallow cull at Cumberland Resort

April 4, 2024 BY

Lorne's Cumberland Resort abandoned plans to cull 50 welcome swallows from its underground carpark last week following community outrage. Photo: FACEBOOK/CUMBERLAND LORNE

LORNE’S Cumberland Resort has backtracked on its plan to cull a colony of birds living in its underground carpark, following significant community opposition.

A spokesperson for the Cumberland said there were approximately 150-200 welcome swallows living in the resort’s four-level carpark, numbers which had been steadily increasing over the past five years.

They said last week’s decision to cull 50 birds to control population numbers was “a last resort” that followed several unsuccessful attempts to humanely deter the swallows.

The resort obtained a licence through the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action last year to undertake the cull, a process the spokesperson said was “extensive”.

Following community outrage that saw resort staff branded online as “barbarians” and “monsters”, the cull was called off by the resort’s owners corporation, which first approved the action.

“Community feedback obviously was very strong, and we listened to that,” the spokesperson said.

Local wildlife carer and bird expert Alice Doherty said welcome swallows were a “really important part of our ecosystem”.

“They eat huge, huge volumes of insects…If we took away the welcome swallows, we’d end up with an overload of insects that we don’t really want.

“The reason they get a bad rap is because they nest against buildings and they tend to roost in the same spot, sleep in the same spot, at night.

“It just results in a pile up for poo.

“A lot of birds will move locations where they sleep, whereas the welcome swallows don’t; they always go back to the same place.”

She said she was not surprised by the fierceness of the community backlash to the cull.

“I’ve found that the Lorne community does care about wildlife.

“I knew the Lorne community would get behind what I perceived to be the right thing and they did me proud, like they always do.

“All of the wildlife carers in the Geelong region thank the Lorne community for their support and we feel really grateful to them for using their voices.”

She speculated that the Cumberland’s previous attempts to deter the welcome swallows had been informed by companies more experienced in pest control than native species.

“I felt disappointed that they hadn’t asked us what might be effective and really disappointed that they thought [the cull] might be effective, because it won’t be.

“If they were to have killed those 50 swallows, they would just end up with 50 swallows back again.”

Ms Doherty, along with another local wildlife carer, will now meet with the Cumberland Resort’s management on Monday, April 8 to discuss solutions, which she suggested would likely involve the humane relocation of the colony.

She said the response from the hotel had already been “really positive”.

“I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say,” the Cumberland spokesperson said.

“If there is another solution to reduce the number of swallows in our carpark that we haven’t already thought of or tried, then, perfect.”

Surf Coast Times – Free local news in your inbox

Breaking news, community, lifestyle, real estate, and sport.