There are extra community safety officer and police patrols in Beddington Park, following the shooting of at least two wildfowl in the last week by a spiteful vandal with an air rifle. Residents report finding other wildlife, including foxes, as being shot with air pellets.
It is the latest outbreak of animal cruelty in the Sutton park, following a spate of similar attacks on wildlife in previous years.
According to a report from the BBC, a mallard was found dead with a gunshot wound to the neck in Beddington Park on Wednesday, April 19, while a Canada goose was discovered with a shot beak.
The goose survived the attack but is being monitored by locals.
Animal rights activist Saffron Gloyne told the BBC, “The mallard was shot in the neck, and the wound bled out – it would have been so painful.”
She said, “It has happened too often now for people to say it is a one-off. I have personally dealt with foxes who have been shot in the head.”
It is a criminal offence to possess an air weapon in a public place “without a reasonable excuse”.
But the police failed to report any arrests after similar acts of animal cruelty involving air guns or catapults in the same area which were reported in 2019 and again last year and in 2021.
The first shootings of this kind, showing wildlife with injuries consistent with the use of air guns or catapults, were reported in December 2019. Two little egrets were found dead and one injured near the River Wandle and Beddington Farmlands nature reserve.
In 2022, four pigeons were found shot in Beddington Park over two days. Ducklings and cygnets were also found with air gun pellets.
The previous year, young swans were found shot through the head by someone using a catapult. “It is so vicious,” Gloyne said.
The wild birds and their nests are supposed to be protected in law.
At the time, a spokesperson for London Wildlife Protection said, “The swans at the park welcomed four cygnets this year, the first I believe that have hatched successfully for some years.
“The bodies of two cygnets were discovered quite clearly shot through the head with a catapult. This now seems to be an extremely worrying pattern of behaviour which is escalating.
“Beddington Park is a hub for families with young children and dog walkers and this kind of violence cannot be brushed under the carpet.”
The shootings have tended to happen in the late evening.
Gloyne told the BBC: “They are using air rifles in a very big family park, I am really concerned. We’re asking people to be vigilant and to take photographs if they see something suspicious.”
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So it is a criminal offence to possess an air weapon in a public place “without a reasonable excuse”.
The Tory government that just dithers and does nothing about stopping the sale of machetes and “zombie” knives isn’t going to prevent psychopaths from buying air rifles and pellets and using them to kill anything they fancy.
And with the Tories having closed police stations and slashed police numbers, who is going to check if someone has a reasonable excuse for carrying an air weapon, let alone find and catch this criminal who has struck repeatedly?
Outsource it to the Chinese?