A youth caught in the middle of aiming a slingshot at a group of songbirds is among those being sought by undercover officers working to combat bird killings.
Nottinghamshire Police recently received six reports that dead birds had been found by members of the public in the Balderton and Barnby areas, all of which had injuries consistent with catapults. There were also concerns that youths were being abusive to members of the public.
The incidents related to the Bowbridge Road, Balderton Lake, Cleveland Square, Barnby Gate and Clay Lane areas during the evening time.
Anthony Nicholson, 82, who lives opposite Balderton Lake, said: “My wife and I have had to bury so much of the wildlife. Only the other week, we found two carp and a wild Canada goose which appeared to have been barbecued.”It happens all the time. The other day a lady came to us crying profusely. She asked us to come and have a look at what she’d found and we went down and found the big white duck, which is a bird that people were absolutely besotted with, with its neck snapped.
“There was also a Canada goose which had had its chest split open and numerous mallard ducks with pellets in the heads. A couple of mallards were suspected to have been tortured and burned. It’s disgraceful.”
The Newark policing team set up an operation involving plain-clothed officers who work alongside uniformed officers, the police quad bike and community protection officers from the district council who conducted patrols and all took part in a number of targeted days of activity which began last week.
During the first event, a teenager ,15, was located using a catapult on Sustrans, Catkin Way, Balderton and was just about to fire it at some local song birds. He was detained and the catapult was seized. He will now be dealt with by the Youth Justice Service for a number of wildlife offences.
Three youths were also detained in the Blue Lake area of Barnby Gate after plain-clothed officers witnessed them chasing ducks and geese and behaving antisocially. They were all spoken with.
A suspected stolen off-road motorbike was also seized after being stopped by the police quad bike being ridden off-road in the Quarry Lane area.
During further police activity, three youths, aged 14, 14 and 15, were detained following a foot chase after officers received a report of nuisance behaviour in the Balderton Lake area. All three were stop searched and catapults and ball bearings seized before being taken home to parents.
Another group was also spoken with about wildlife concerns after being spotted acting suspiciously and then trying to outrun the police quad bike.
All those involved are now on the police radar going forward.
Also during recent operations, patrolling police community support officers detained three youths who ran away from officers attending a report of men firing a catapult in Hawtonville. The Reacher team was also in attendance and a number of ball bearings were seized.
Mr Nicholson describes various problems over the past ten years, including criminal damage to his property, drug taking and wildlife killings. He states that events got so bad that he was advised to keep an incident book of his own and regularly has visits from local police. He also had a security camera installed which made a huge difference and the couple changed all of their windows to tinted view. This has enabled them to catch offenders in the act and assist police with their investigations.
The former night manager at Edwalton Hall, said: “We have gone through a really horrific time and there were many occasions where my wife suggested to sell up and go but we live in a beautiful area and it doesn’t seem fair. We see everything that goes off across the lake – the good, the bad and the ugly. Friends would come and visit us and say you’re so lucky, look at the view you’ve got and we can only reply…. sometimes.”
The self-confessed wildlife lover, said: “Police do their hardest, they really do, they’ve been really supportive of us and we’ll always do everything we can to assist them. We couldn’t wait for a big operation like this to take place. Friends who live in other parts of the lakes tell us that they’ve seen undercover officers in action, and that it is making a difference.
“We don’t want offenders to just get a slap on the wrist, we want them to prosecuted for their actions. There doesn’t seem to be any parental guidance of these youngsters. I just wish things were simpler for them and they were able to be entertained by the youth clubs that we used to go to where you’d play snooker and tennis and just talk to each other.”
Neighbourhood Sergeant Rob Harrison said: “We’ve seen some really concerning behaviour aimed out our local wildlife and it’s beyond belief that people seem intent on deliberately setting out to harm other living creatures.”Lots of our residents have spoken about their concerns and find it really distressing to come across animals that have been deliberately killed.
“It’s completely unacceptable behaviour and thankfully our undercover operation has been ousting a number of those responsible.
“Alongside proactive enforcement, we are also planning an educational package with our partners with a view to visiting local schools to try and understand why youngsters are doing this and to explain to them how heartless it is and what the consequences might be.
“We also ask parents to speak with their children and make sure they know that this is unacceptable and if caught using a slingshot in a public place, face arrest and prosecution
“People can also expect to see a more high profile police presence in our wildlife zones and rest assured that we will continue our undercover work and operations to catch those responsible.”
Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “We were only too happy to support our Police colleagues with patrols after some of the appalling reports of wildlife crime. It is an offence under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to kill animals and we are urging parents, guardians and teachers to look and listen out for behaviour like this.
“There are very few legitimate reasons for carrying a catapult but causing unnecessary harm to innocent animals is most certainly not one of them. I’m delighted the patrols have caught some of those responsible, but rest assured this behaviour will not be tolerated and this enforcement activity will continue.”
People are asked to call Nottinghamshire Police if they see anything suspicious in wildlife areas or have any concerns.”
Commissioner Caroline Henry, Nottinghamshire’s recently-elected PCC, said: “I have spoken to residents and landowners across Nottinghamshire’s rural communities and I’ve heard about the problems that make their lives a living nightmare. This type of behaviour is totally unacceptable and I’m pleased to see such a robust response to these shocking attacks on our wildlife.
“It’s really important that our rural communities know the police will be there when they need them and trust officers to deliver an effective response, such as this, to their problems.”
They can all 101 with any information or alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.