Published: 15:00, 05 January 2017 |
Updated: 12:42, 06 January 2017
An animal farm and attraction has found itself at the centre of a social media storm after several pigeons were shot at the site near Paddock Wood.
The Hop Farm has received dozens of negative one-star reviews on its Facebook page, some accusing it carrying out a 'shooting spree' and exposing children to a 'bloodbath' of dead and dying birds at the family park.
But bosses called fowl on the allegations, telling Kent Online they were carrying out normal pest control in an effort to protect customers' health and safety - on a day when the farm was closed to the public.
The negative reviews, some written in German and Spanish, began to appear on the Facebook on Tuesday. Many were left by people living outside Kent, and in some cases, the UK.
One star reviews now outnumber five-star reviews at the attraction.
Pauline Shields said she had visited the Hop Farm with her two daughters and had witnessed the cull first-hand.
She said: "Birds torn to shreds by bullets. Dead and dying birds lying on the ground in front of them!
"My kids have had nightmares since visiting and I have no words to explain to a 5 & 7-year-old your reasons for doing that to Gods little creatures!
"My girls and myself have been left utterly distressed, disgusted and horrified by the whole experience."
Paul Watkins also left a review. He said: "How can a so called family friendly place do this abominable thing. The blood of these murdered birds is well and truly on your hands."
Gaurav Dom added: "What kind of a "family park" serves murders to the visitors!!! Are you guys really so shameless? Are you guys really so incapable of compassion and empathy?"
Responding to one of the comments, the Hop Farm said the posts were based on fabricated information. They said: "We are currently investigating the source and legal action will be taken for all those involved.
"We recommend you contact all that have commented and reviewed about this and remove reviews or comments. So no further action is taken."
Speaking to KentOnline, a spokesman said he was surprised and frustrated at the comments the Hop Farm is receiving.
He said pest controllers had been brought in as part of normal yearly maintenance and had recommended the pigeon population at the farm to be reduced in order to safeguard customers' health and safety.
He added in total about half a dozen birds were actually shot, and the site was, and remains, closed to the public until February.
He said: "It is surprising as it is something we have not experienced before in this respect."
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