VILLAGERS are fighting for the return of a gaggle of geese to their seaside home after a ‘scurrilous and vindictive’ move saw them swiped by a wildlife protection group.
Simon Reynolds, who runs Pond Barn Country Club in Bracklesham, said the wild geese, which have lived on the next-door pond for decades, were ‘sneakily’ taken by West Sussex Wildlife Protection.
The group claims the geese were ‘unsafe’ and were in ‘considerable danger’ on the road.
“I woke up on Monday morning and there were no geese,” said Mr Reynolds, who took over Pond Barn in December.
“I feel like it is a personal attack. They are trying to make me look like a villain.”
Mr Reynolds defended his business against a small group of villages at a licence hearing at Chichester District Council two weeks ago.
He said he had ‘no responsibility’ for the wild birds because they were free to come and go from the picturesque area.
“The geese are like a landmark in the area,” said Mr Reynolds.
“Villagers love coming with children to see the geese. The support from the village has been overwhelming.”
Mr Reynolds held a small village angling competition at Pond Barn – where fishermen caught three eels and a carp – before throwing them back.
But Jaine Wilde, from the Sussex Wildlife Protection Trust, said the public had been concerned about the geese following the competition – and found the geese to be in an ‘unsuitable location’.
“We collected the geese on a Sunday morning away from the pub and in view of a number of local residents, who were sad to see them go, but thrilled they would now be safe.”
She said the geese were now in a ‘heavenly location’ at the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton.
Resident Deborah Morgan, said: “Such a shame we have lost our geese. My granddaughter is really upset. We often fed them.”
Sussex Police is investigating reports that the geese have been stolen.