Police issue urgent appeal after wild birds being shot with catapults on the rise in Hampshire

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Police have issued an urgent appeal amid rising cases of birds being shot with catapults in Hampshire

Police have issued an urgent appeal after birds were shot with catapults in Hampshire. Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary said the force has been receiving regular reports of wild animals being injured with the weapon since May last year, with monthly reports relating to incidents of poaching.

On January 30 this year, it was reported to police that a swan had been killed, and another injured, at the Basingstoke Canal in North Warnborough. It’s suspected they had been shot with catapults.

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In February, the force received two reports of wildlife being targeted with catapults. The police were first told that on February 20 a group was seen firing catapults at wildlife near the Garnier Road bridge over the River Itchen. Students who were rowing along the river were also targeted, but no injuries were reported.

A day later, on February 21, police were told that a group of people spat at a man near Domum Road in Winchester, and the same group were seen firing catapults at swans.

Police have issued an urgent appeal amid rising cases of birds being shot with catapults in HampshirePolice have issued an urgent appeal amid rising cases of birds being shot with catapults in Hampshire
Police have issued an urgent appeal amid rising cases of birds being shot with catapults in Hampshire | Getty

In March this year, a man was sentenced and ordered to pay reparations to a gamekeeper following a criminal damage and poaching offence in Bordon. The man broke into a pheasant pen whilst armed with a catapult.

Sergeant Stuart Ross, from the Country Watch team, said: “Intentionally harming defenceless wildlife and birds is shocking and it simply won't be tolerated. It is a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to kill, harm, or take a wild bird. It is also an offence to take, damage or destroy the nest of a wild bird. Anyone found to have done so faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.

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“We want you to be aware of the law around this, and want to educate people around the serious consequences of hurting our local wildlife. Crimes against wildlife have a huge impact on local communities and we want to reassure people that we take this extremely seriously, and work closely with partners including the RSPB and RSPCA to address issues affecting animals and birds. Please help us put a stop to this behaviour by reporting incidents to us.”

The force also called for those with information to come forward to help them in their investigation. It added: “Even if a crime has not been committed at that time, it allows us to build a picture of the areas of the county where our wildlife could be at risk, and could assist us in intercepting and educating individuals around their use, particularly if they are being used recklessly by people. If a crime is in progress dial 999.”

Alternatively, people can report crimes against wild birds on the RSPB website or report animal cruelty to the RSPCA. If you have seen someone using a catapult against wildlife in your neighbourhood, please report this to police on 101 or via Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary website.