We are so tired of receiving reports of animals, particularly waterbirds, being shot with slingshots, air rifles and other weapons by groups of young men in the Greenwich and Bexley area.
In recent months, these reports have been almost constant. Birds have been wounded and killed in Danson Park, Southmere, Brooklands Lake and Greenwich Ecology Park. The culprits are often completely brazen about carrying out their attacks and will sometimes return multiple days in a row to torture animals in broad daylight - purely for their own personal entertainment.
In spite of numerous reports being made to the police, the attacks are not getting any less frequent. Last week, a goose was severely injured by a group of young men in Danson Park, again in broad daylight, who then dumped the still-alive animal in a dustbin, as pictured. In recent weeks, volunteers from the GWN and SWaN Patrol Team have caught young men in the act of shooting or throwing stones at animals. Greenwich Ecology Park is dealing with almost daily incidents of animals being shot at with sling-shots.
The bleeding mallard, pictured above, was also shot earlier in the year at Brooklands Lake. Although every effort was made to save her, she died after a night of suffering, no doubt leaving a mate pining for her.
Remember, these are only the attacks we are aware of - who knows how many animals have been killed or injured and left to suffer across our many local waterways and natural spaces, when no-one was around to witness it. In the nesting season, when many animals are raising their young, the actions of these young men are all the more callous and sadistic.
Something needs to change, because at the moment, these animal abusers are maiming and killing animals with impunity. Every week we recieve another report, but nothing seems to change, nothing seems to be done.
Of course, the most obvious answer is tougher sentences for animal abusers, including those that are under the age of 18. Although the police often want to help when reports are made, they may be limited by lenient legislation relating to animal cruelty, or by a lack of resources devoted to the issue.
However, we are aware that tackling the many gaps in legal protection for animals is a long-term goal - one that isn't going to prevent animals being killed daily in our local area in the coming days and weeks. So for now:
First - PLEASE be vigilant and on the look out for suspicious activity when visiting our parks and open spaces, particularly around lakes and ponds. If you suspect animals are being harmed, make a report to the police immideatedly, either by calling 101 if the crime is in progress, or online at https://bit.ly/3wOZUiL. Take photos or video if you are able to do so without endangering yourself. Evidence is so hard to gather in these cases, so it is really important.
Second - please sign this petition to ban the use and sale of sling shots and catapults, which are among the most common weapons to be used against wildlife. This will be debated in parliment if we can reach 10,000 signatures: https://bit.ly/3upkNPN
Lastly, seek help for any injured animal ASAP from a wildlife rescue centre or organisation. You can find a list of organisations serving the SE London area here: https://bit.ly/3fnSDjY
We have had enough of this. Haven't you?