A wave of alarming crimes against waterfowl, including swans, ducks, and geese, is making headlines across England and Wales. From 2020 to 2022, these violent incidents have risen by 59%, as per police data. Unfortunately, the reality might be even worse, as these reported crimes could merely be the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
The attacks range from fireworks and BB guns being shot into duck ponds to the unthinkable act of strangling and beheading swans and geese. Shockingly, some areas witnessed gruesome discoveries like decapitated swans and a goose killed by slamming a stable door on its neck. Even in the heart of London, three swans were found beheaded. Such grim incidents underscore the need for better wildlife protection measures.
Moreover, ducks haven’t been spared either. Youths were reported for shooting fireworks into a duck pond in Merseyside, and a mallard in Essex died after being shot with a BB gun. In Yatton, several ducks were found tied up and drowned.
According to data from the Guardian, police in England and Wales reported 62 crimes against these birds between 2020 and 2022. Half of these nationwide incidents were accounted for by Essex, Merseyside, and Devon and Cornwall.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, all wild birds, including their eggs and nests, are protected.
Anyone found harming them is liable for up to six months in prison or an unlimited fine. However, the startling rise in crimes suggests that enforcement of this act needs to be stronger.
The RSPCA spokesperson highlights the paradox in being a nation of animal lovers while such violent acts persist.
They emphasized that these reported cases may only represent a fraction of the true magnitude of the problem, with many injured animals likely going undiscovered and suffering a painful, protracted death.
To honor the lives of four mute swans killed by youths in Coggeshall, Essex, MP Priti Patel unveiled a memorial bench.
This gesture is a small but poignant tribute to the wildlife that enriches our environment and local communities.
As a society, we need to ensure these attacks don’t go unpunished or unnoticed. The rise in cruelty to animals, particularly waterfowl, must be curtailed.
Those who witness suspicious activity are encouraged to report it to the RSPCA, Crimestoppers, or their local police force.
This article by Josie Fu was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 21 June 2023.
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