CAMOUFLAGED men have been spotted climbing trees in the dead of night as part of an ongoing mission to eradicate monk Parakeets in Borehamwood.

Alarmed residents saw two military-dressed men using ladders and torches in a back garden in Mildred Avenue on Thursday evening, July 14.

The Borehamwood & Elstree Times has tried contacting the Department for Environment, Food and Rurual Affairs (DEFRA), but has so far received no explanation as to what its agents were doing.

Simon Richardson, of Mildred Avenue, who spotted the men, said: “I panicked, because when you see people in army camouflage you presume they are there to shoot things.

“They looked like overweight soldiers, but I was concerned for the other wildlife in the area - which could have become collateral damage.”

Campaigner, Christine Brock, 57, of Glenhaven Avenue, who is trying to save the South American native birds, was told by DEFRA there is a 'better chance of catching them at night'.

DEFRA claims monk Parakeets have caused significant damage to crops and pylons, as they build large communal nests, in other countries and pose a similar threat to the UK.

Since the Government's £90,000 eradication programme of the 'invasive' species began in early 2011, several birds have been culled in Borehamwood.

Mr Richardson asked: “Why do that? All that expense, the stress for the birds, when we here in Borehamwood have tried to take responsibility for the perceived problem.

“We have found The Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service Animal Centre in Trent Park who are happy to take them. They have secure free flight aviaries – why can't they go there?”

Ms Brock and Mr Richardson are continuing to fight the DEFRA programme and have more than 2,300 signatures on a petition calling for it to end. They plan to hand this into Downing Street later in the summer.

Their campaign has also begun to attract the attention of local councillors, across parties, who have spoken out in support.

Councillor Richard Butler (Lab/Kenilworth) said: “I find it disgusting that this government section DEFRA is wasting £90,000 on trying to kill our local parakeets - a small defenceless wild bird very well known to Borehamwood.

“I have been walking the streets with local campaigners Simon Richardson and Christine Brock, listening to as many local residents as we possibly can.

“Some people are for the culling, but I am very pleased to say that the vast  majority are in favour of keeping our local Parakeets.

“I will firmly stand with our campaigners working hard to save our Parakeets.”

The monk Parakeet petition is available to sign in Medivet, Golden Plaice, Best in Kitchens Ltd, Petzone, all in Shenley Road, and Cyrstal Moon in Drayton Road.

To read more on the monk Parakeet story, see our related links below.