Appeal for help to report wildlife cruelty

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service is asking the public to be vigilant and report any instances of cruelty toward wildlife by young individuals.

The plea comes after the charity received several complaints about youths throwing stones at waterfowl and seals, kicking waterfowl, and shooting ball bearings at wild birds in East Sussex in recent weeks.

Incidents include a Canada Goose being injured after being kicked down an embankment at Hailsham Common Pond, and another Canada Goose being injured and killed by a ball-bearing shot from a catapult at Hailsham Country Park. Reports of young people throwing stones at resting seals prompted WRAS rescuers to attend Seaford and Eastbourne seafront, in partnership with British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

As the weather gets warmer, incidents of cruelty tend to rise, with catapult misuse being a growing concern. The charity has encountered over 25 reports of young people using catapults along the Cuckoo Trail between Polegate and Horam. In one instance, WRAS rescued an injured woodpigeon with a ball bearing lodged in its chest and a duck next to Ringmer Recreation Ground after a catapult incident.

WRAS often treats wildlife victims of air gun attacks, such as badgers, foxes, gulls, and swans, which suffer from infections due to non-fatal shots. A fox in Hailsham survived for weeks after being shot in the face with an air rifle, only to succumb to infection and jaundice.

“On Monday I rushed down to Hailsham Country Park after reports of a Canada Goose having just been hit by young person’s using a catapult. Sadly, the goose was floating in the water dead when I arrived. The body was still warm. The remaining parent which is now having to raise seven goslings on its own was looking very perplexed” added Trevor.

The charity emphasizes that harming or disturbing wild birds without a proper license is illegal and ethically wrong.

“I worry about these young people. There is a direct link between animal abuse and domestic violence, including child abuse, elder abuse and other violent behaviour. I just hope that these people can be stopped and can start to receive the help that they need” said Trevor.

East Sussex WRAS encourages witnesses to report any such inhumane acts to Sussex Police promptly via 101, or 999 if a crime is in progress.

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