May Bumps lead to death of local wildlife

One resident claims he saw at least two ducklings killed in one race. He calls the increasing number of rowers on the River “at crisis point”

Rowers on the River Cam. Credit: Alison Christine

One local resident has accused rowers at the University of Cambridge of killing ducklings during the May Bumps.

The colleges’ annual races took place last week over three days, starting on Wednesday.

Lee Culley, who lives in a boat on the river, claims he witnessed at least two ducklings being killed during one race.

“It was absolutely disgusting,” he said. “They just sped through even though I shouted to them, warning them about the ducks.”

“They just kept on going and their blades went through the ducks and killed two. The ducks were only three weeks old.”

“Another one died the next day and the mother has none but keeps coming back to my boat looking for the brood.”

Mr Culley has expressed his worry about other wildlife being threatened because there are “too many” rowers in the river, he argues. “The number of rowers has dramatically increased from about five years ago. The situation is at crisis point.”

Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs, which runs the event, said: “Every effort is being made to mitigate disturbance to wildlife and to keep ducks and other waterfowl out of the way of racing boats.”

They added: “Indeed, the start of the men’s second division on Wednesday night was delayed by 15 minutes while a family of ducks were guided out of harm’s way.”

“We are very sorry to hear of the incident Mr Culley apparently witnessed and will be briefing stewards to be extra vigilant.”

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