Wildlife Rescuers are warning people to be on the lookout and to report to Sussex Police people shooting from bedroom windows and across gardens in residential areas as more and more birds start nesting and having their young at this time of year.
The warning comes after a spate of shooting incidents and as we approach the “Silly Summer Shooting Season” which starts as gulls start nesting and having young.
Rescuers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service dealt with a distressing call just before 7am this morning at an address in The Circus, Eastbourne.
Centre Manager and Rescuer Chris Riddington from Eastbourne said "When I took the call I spoke to a very upset lady who believed a gull had been shot on her roof and was now laying injured in her garden".
"When I saw the bird, the wounds were consistent with being shot, there was clear entry and exit hole and the feathers had been pushed into the wound" said Chris "sadly the bone was fractured quite badly and it wasn't looking good".
Chris took the injured bird to St Anne's vets in Eastbourne who agreed that the gull was in a serious condition and the kindest thing was to put the bird to sleep.
This isn't an isolated case and is the fourth gull to be shot in 4 weeks at this address. Another shot gull was rescued from the same location on Tuesday. An x-rayed revealed the wing still had a pellet lodged inside. WRAS’s veterinary team are working hard to save it's life.
“Spending some time with the caller this morning, the person shooting the gull is not only committing a criminal offence shooting the birds and leaving them injured but they are causing anti-social behaviour making this lady scared and fearful to go near her windows, they are reducing her to tears. She has lived at the address four years and has never known anything like this. Not only does she have to lay there at night as birds are shot on her roof she then rushes outside to their aid and looks after then until we arrive. She has to see the wounds, the blood over her patio, the fear in the birds eyes. In many cases like this it is not just the wildlife that is suffering but the local residents too. It breaks my heart to see this. A lady who doesn't feel comfortable in her own home" said Chris.
East Sussex WRAS have this morning contacted the police who will be investigating the matter. If you have any information about who may be causing this cruelty please contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting ref 152 of 18th May 2017.
East Sussex WRAS are also caring for a Peregrine Falcon with a damaged wing from Ninfield. “It is unclear how the wing was broken and this could be due to a collision but when we x-rayed the rest of the body to check for other injuries we discovered several pieces of shot in the bird. So it is not just the successful and intelligent species which are being targeted by people shooting” added Trevor Weeks MBE.
St Annes Veterinary Group had to euthanasie a gull from Old Drive Polegate today which had also been shot. Recently WRAS had a spate of calls to Gournay Road area of Hailsham and a crow had to be put to sleep after being shot with an air gun.
“It is one think to shoot wood pigeon or rabbit for food, but to needlessly shoot wildlife because you see them as a pain or pest is a complete an utter waste of life and very short sighted. To do so at this time of year when so many birds have young is just heartless and cruel” said Trevor, “we will be passing all information to Sussex Police about all shooting incidents and has as occurred previously weapons will be destroyed and people taken to court if necessary. I personally would like to see air guns and ball-bearing guns banned except for use on licenced ranges as they cause far too much unnecessary suffering to pets and wildlife. Today’s gull also had a 5mm ball bearing lodged in its other wing too from a previous injury.”
All birds are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act and cannot be disturbed whilst nesting. Although there are general licences which can be used in a limited number of circumstances these licences require alternative options to have been tried first.
We frequently get people calling us saying they have seen someone shooting out of a bedroom window. We would urge anyone who sees anyone doing so to call Sussex Police on 999 if an offence is in the process of being committed or to call 101 if after the event.