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Police are hunting for suspects after dead birds discovered in Singleton Lake, Ashford

By Sean Axtell

Police are hunting for suspects following a brutal attack on wildlife, where two birds were killed, in a popular nature reserve.

The duckling and coot were found maimed at Singleton Lake, off of Bucksford Lane, Ashford on Friday afternoon (July 14).

The popular fishing lake was subjected to a banning order preventing youths from congregating after a spate of anti-social behaviour and reports of yobs brandishing machetes, last year.

Singleton Lake in Ashford. Picture Gary Browne
Singleton Lake in Ashford. Picture Gary Browne

Despite Kent Police ramping up “high visibility patrols” in the area, it insisted the lake was a safe place to visit.

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE BELOW

But Matt Lacey, a member of campaign group Friends for Singleton Lake, said wildlife crime wasn’t taken seriously enough, and fears residents will take matters “into their own hands.”

He said: “ I am a former bailiff at the lake but stood down as nothing ever got done to resolve such issues.

“Sadly wildlife crime does not appear to be taken seriously enough due to police levels and therefore respective priorities.

A dead Coot: Courtesy Matt Lacey
A dead Coot: Courtesy Matt Lacey

“The issue with that is that, at some point, locals, fed up with witnessing such events, will take matters into their own hands.

“It is a shame the lake, such an asset to the community, is avoided by so many due to this kind of anti-social behaviour.”

The lake has been made subject to a Public Space Protection Order, where police imposed dispersal orders to prevent youths from gathering.

It followed numerous reports last year of anti-social behaviour in the area, with PCSOs seizing catapults and slings off youths who were causing trouble to wildlife.

The attack took place at Singleton Lake
The attack took place at Singleton Lake

Speaking on the latest incident Kent Police said: “Officers are currently investigating the circumstances around this incident and are aware of previous reports of anti-social behaviour in the area and are continuing to provide high visibility patrolling around the lakes.

“Kent Police takes reports of all crime, including wildlife crime, seriously and there is a dedicated Rural Task Force team which has been set up to tackle such crime.

“We would like to reassure residents that the lake continues to be a safe place to visit and enjoy, and would encourage residents and visitors to continue to enjoy the area.

“Kent Police was called at 2.52pm on Friday 14 July 2017 to a report of wildlife being purposely injured at Singleton Lake, Bucksford Lane, Ashford.”

Meanwhile, the RSPCA has urged witnesses to come forward and call its animal cruelty line.

A spokesman said: “Wild birds, their nests and their eggs are protected by law in England and Wales. For more information about the Wildlife & Countryside Act, please see our website.

“Anyone who has any information about this incident can contact the RSPCA's cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.”

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