Cruelty against wildlife rising, says Essex Police


Essex Police has said rise in cases of cruelty against wildlife is taking place in the county.

More reports of wild animals being shot by weapons including catapults and crossbows have been received by the force, which has appealed for the public's help in "tackling a disturbing crime trend" which sees wildlife cruelly targeted for so-called fun.

Officers said foxes, otters and swans were among the animals found injured or suffering "long and painful" deaths.

Police officers watch a vet at South Essex Wildlife Hospital treat an injured Mute Swan that was shot (Essex Police).


'Long and painful' deaths

Wildlife crime and heritage officer PC Jed Raven said: "Some people think it's just a bit of harmless fun but the animal or bird they hit could suffer a long and painful death as a result. It's not just catapults – people sometimes target wildlife with air weapons and crossbows.

"But any way you look at it, it's dangerous and it is cruel. And animal cruelty can be a precursor to more serious crimes. Anyone who walks in, or patrols, our parks and towns are our eyes and ears. We need you to tell us what you know."

Police said causing deliberate injury to animals was a rising trend both locally and nationally, and there had been an increase in reports made to them and the RSPCA.


Areas of concern

Areas of particular concern in Essex included Chafford Gorges Nature Discovery Park near Grays and Northlands Park in Basildon, the force said.

PC Raven is the national police lead for Operation Lakeshot, which focuses on education and preventing reoffending as well as detection and bringing offenders to justice.