Police are urging people to report wildlife crime, following recent incidents of birds being shot with catapults in Hampshire.

Reports of injuries being caused to wild animals in Hampshire peaked in May 2023, with police receiving monthly reports relating to poaching.

It is often the case that catapults are used to cause serious injury or death to birds.

On Tuesday, January 30, it was reported to police that a swan had been killed, and another injured, at the Basingstoke Canal in North Warnborough. It’s suspected they had been shot with catapults.

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In February, police received two reports of wildlife being targeted with catapults. Firstly, police were told that on February 20, a group were witnessed firing catapults at wildlife near the Garnier Road bridge over the River Itchen in Winchester. Students who were rowing along the river were also targeted, but no injuries were reported.

A day later, on February 21, in the same area police were told that a group of people spat at a man near Domum Road in Winchester, and the same group were seen firing catapults at swans.

Hampshire Chronicle: A duck died in one of the incidentsA duck died in one of the incidents (Image: Robert Truscott)

In March, a man was sentenced and ordered to pay reparations to a gamekeeper following a criminal damage and poaching offence in Bordon. The man broke into a pheasant pen whilst armed with a catapult.

If you have seen someone using a catapult against wildlife in your neighbourhood, please report this to police on 101 or via hampshire.police.uk.

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Even if a crime has not been committed at that time, it will help police to build a picture of the areas of the county where wildlife could be at risk, and could assist in intercepting and educating individuals around their use, particularly if they are being used recklessly. If a crime is in progress dial 999.

Sergeant Stuart Ross, from the Country Watch team, said: “Intentionally harming defenceless wildlife and birds is shocking and it simply won't be tolerated.

“It is a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to kill, harm, or take a wild bird. It is also an offence to take, damage or destroy the nest of a wild bird. Anyone found to have done so faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.

“We want you to be aware of the law around this, and want to educate people around the serious consequences of hurting our local wildlife.

“Crimes against wildlife have a huge impact on local communities and we want to reassure people that we take this extremely seriously, and work closely with partners including the RSPB and RSPCA to address issues affecting animals and birds.

“Please help us put a stop to this behaviour by reporting incidents to us.”

Information on reporting crimes against wild birds can be found on the RSPB website at rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife. Acts of animal cruelty can be reported to the RSPCA at rspca.org.uk/utilities/contactus/reportcruelty.