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  • Writer's pictureRae Gellel

Join Our Campaign to End Catapult Cruelty

Since the charity was founded in 2018, the Greenwich Wildlife Network has received almost daily reports of animals being shot at with catapults in local parks, waterways and green spaces in the boroughs of Greenwich and Bexley.

The culprits are often groups of young males aged 12-18, and the victims are most frequently water birds such as swans and geese, as these are large, slow-moving targets. However, no animals are safe from these attacks and we have also seen foxes, squirrels and pigeons wounded and killed.

The perpetrators of this cruelty use catapults to fire objects such as ball bearings, rocks and even nuts and bolts at animals. The damage caused is, of course, tremendous. We have seen animals lose eyes, be killed outright from head trauma, or suffer severely fractured bones. In some cases, we cannot catch the injured animal, and our unpaid volunteer team may spend days or even weeks attempting to rescue them in order to tend to their wounds, employing specialist equipment such as kayaks and net guns.

We may never be able to capture the affected animal, and they may linger on for days, suffering from painful injuries, before finally dying.

In 2023, a group of youths at Southmere Lake in Thamesmead shot a mallard with a catapult in broad daylight, hitting her in the head area in front of multiple witnesses. She died shortly after, leaving her six ducklings orphaned. In spite of many hours of attempting to round up these ducklings on a kayak by GWN volunteers, capturing them proved impossible. They were left to die without a mother.

In 2021, a group of youths shot a Canada Goose in the neck with a catapult at Danson Park in Bexley, causing such damage that the animal became comatose and collapsed. Witnesses then observed the youths dragging the bird out of the water and throwing him in a bin whilst he was still alive.

To inflict such pain on wildlife in this way, purely for entertainment, is of course, against the law. All wild birds are protected under the Countryside & Wildlife Act, and the Animal Welfare Act prohibits against causing any suffering to an animal that might be deemed unnecessary.

However, this seems to be little deterrent for the culprits. Both our volunteers and the members of the public who witness these incidents - which almost always happen in broad daylight in busy urban areas - have made multiple police reports. Yet the same youths still return day after day to local parks and green spaces to continue their ‘sport’, seeming to be able to perpetuate public acts of animal cruelty with impunity. Reporting these crimes is having little to no impact on their frequency.

Mere feet away from mothers pushing strollers and families enjoying picnics in our urban parks and green spaces, animals are being tortured and killed, and the culprits are getting away with it. It is incredibly frustrating, and something needs to change.

Please join us in trying to make that change happen.

Sign and share the petition to get greater regulation around catapults discussed in parliment:

Visit the End Catapult Cruelty Campaign website for more resources on how to end this assault on our wildlife;

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