Primary school children are filming themselves killing and torturing wild animals including swans, deer and squirrels then sharing the grisly videos on WhatsApp in ‘sick’ nation-wide ‘trend’

Primary school children are filming themselves killing and torturing wild animals including swans, deer and squirrels then sharing the grisly videos on WhatsApp in ‘sick’ nation-wide ‘trend’



Primary school children are filming themselves killing and torturing wild animals and sharing the grisly videos on WhatsApp in a ‘sick’ nation-wide ‘trend’.

Around 500 youths across 11 groups, which include primary school children, have shared graphic photos and videos of wounded and dead animals killed using a hand-held catapult.

Swans, deer, pigeons, foxes, squirrels, pheasants, rabbits, geese and duck are among the wildlife pictured and filmed in the disturbing attacks.

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In one shocking video, a deer lies twitching on the ground having been shot with a catapult by a child.

The youth then kicks the deer on the floor while wielding the hand-held weapon for viewers to see, Sky News reported.

The Swan Sanctuary is seen with a bloodied neck after it was brutally attacked in one of the attacks
The Swan Sanctuary is seen with a bloodied neck after it was brutally attacked in one of the attacks

In another heartbreaking video, two teenagers boast of shooting a fox, with one heard saying: ‘Okay boys… steel shot in the head.’

The discovery has sparked calls to change the law to classify catapults as an illegal weapon.

Geoff Edmond, the RSPCA’s lead wildlife officer, said the catapult killings were an ’emerging trend’ and that children were ‘deliberately and intentionally targeting’ animals ‘for sport’.

He told Sky News: ‘We’re seeing more and more injured animals being reported to us that are being hit by catapults.’

More than 350 pictures and videos of injured and killed animals have been shared across the groups, reports said.

Elsewhere, the Swan Sanctuary claimed to have 20 birds in its care with catapult injuries.

X-ray images showed shattered bones as well as ball bearing lodges in the bars from the impact of the catapult shots.

In one incident, Volunteer Danni Rogers said he was rescuing a swan with catapult injuries when he was made aware children were shooting in the area.

He later discovered a dead pigeon next to his vehicle, which claimed had been left as a ‘trophy’.

Children have shared graphic photos and videos of wounded and dead animals killed using a hand-held catapult
Children have shared graphic photos and videos of wounded and dead animals killed using a hand-held catapult

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 lists weapons a person must not use to kill an animal, but catapults are not on the list.

It comes as an artist was threatened when he tried to stop a gang armed with catapults attacking swans and aiming at students paddling on a river at a £50,000-a-year college.

Robert Truscott, 52, who is backing a campaign to outlaw catapults in public places, said children as young as 10 try to kill swans and ducks on the River Itchen which flows through the grounds of Winchester College.

Robert Truscott said when he confronted one of the groups, he was intimidated, threatened and spat at.

There is no suggestion the vandals were connected to the college, founded in 1382.

Mr Truscott, who lives in the city, said he had found a dead duck floating on the water at the scene of one attack, and had seen youngsters armed with catapults firing missiles at rowers – thought to be students – on the Itchen.

‘They were just basically, in broad daylight, going around in the centre of a reserve of Winchester College with catapults, seeing all the waterfowl as open targets,’ he said.

‘Swans, ducks, moorhens, fish, you name it, they’d have a go at anything that moved basically.’

Elsewhere, two boys were charged over an alleged burglary at an environmental college during which a number of animals died.

The children, aged 11 and 12, are due to appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Thursday accused of two counts of burglary and one count of animal cruelty.

A break-in was reported at Capel Manor College in Gunnersbury Park, west London on February 25, during which staff said that animals had been killed and enclosures damaged.

A barn owl called Shiraz escaped but has since been recovered at a warehouse near Heathrow Airport and is being cared for at the college’s Enfield campus.

MP Henry Smith, the vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare suggested lawmakers should look at the law.

Mr Smith said: ‘Until a few people are convicted of using catapults for inflicting great suffering on animals, and they face the consequences of that in law, then there won’t be a deterrent to stop other people from engaging in this sick activity.’

WhatsApp said the material being shared in the catapult groups was against its terms of use.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said: ‘We respond to law enforcement requests based on applicable law and policy.’

MailOnline has contacted WhatsApp for comment.

This article by Katherine Lawton was first published by The Daily Mail on 13 March 2024. Lead Image: An innocent rabbit is seen after being brutally attacked using a hand-held catapult.

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