Volunteers find dead animals in sports bag in the River Bann

A sports bag containing a number of deceased racing pigeons has been found in the River Bann.

By Neve Wilkinson
Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 12:24 pm
The sports bag contained a number of dead racing pigeons
The sports bag contained a number of dead racing pigeons

Jon Medlow runs the ‘River Bann Cleanup Portadown’ Facebook page with the aim of protecting the wildlife and keeping the river clear of litter, yet it is not always just litter that he finds.

This week, Jon has had one of his more distburbing finds – a sports bag which contained a number of deceased racing pigeons.

With the rings still attached, he has been able to log this finding to the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA), who recently had a report on their site that these pigeon numbers were last registered in North Wales.

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Some of the items taken from the River Bann at Portadown

Jon said: “What remains a mystery is how they got from North Wales, to be found in a sports bag in Portadown”

The RPRA are trying to contact the relevant owner to ascertain how this occurred.

Jon also released the pigeon ring numbers on the Facebook page, with the caption: “Why? Why did you feel the need to dump these in the river?”.

Unfortunately Jon has found various wildlife and animals, who have met an untimely demise, such as dogs and kittens tied in bags, foxes, sheep that have had their ear tags removed, and badgers.

Jon Medlow runs the ‘River Bann Cleanup Portadown’ Facebook page

As the illegal setting of nets and traps to capture fish is becoming more common on this stretch of river, Jon has come across three traps and one net this year.

Jon is waiting for Inland Fisheries to remove a net after he reported a second deceased otter which had been caught in a net set by poachers.

He said: “I wouldn’t put this down to being caused by the discarding of litter but more a mixture of cruelty by people and a chance for landowners to get rid of deceased farm animals.”

Once just a lone kayaker, Jon now receives help from a number of non-funded volunteers, including young children, who want to help with the River Bann clean up.

The Facebook page is used to document the clean up efforts of the volunteers, with plenty of supporting pictures and lists known as ‘litter hauls’.

The most recent litter haul contained: “47 plastic bottles, 35 cans, 25 glass bottles, two tennis balls, two plastic buckets, one hurling ball, one hanging flower basket, one bin bag of rubbish.”

A pitched tent was also found in the river this summer which after a thorough clean, was good to reuse.

The River Bann is one of the longest rivers in Northern Ireland, running from the Mourne Mountains to Castlerock, through Lough Neagh and Lough Beg. Jon and his volunteers work on a stretch of the river that goes through Portadown.

Lots of people congratulate Jon on his finds and thank him as he continues to clean up this stretch of the River Bann by arranging litter picks and inspiring others to join in.

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