Published: 00:01, 05 September 2017
Horrific acts of wildlife cruelty have been uncovered at a Canterbury beauty spot targeted by animal abusers.
Badger setts have been burned out, rabbits shot by teenagers and a fox cub’s neck broken at Reed Pond, behind the city’s Poet’s estate.
Student Martin Wood discovered the scale of the abuse during months spent surveying the Ministry of Defence-owned site for his university dissertation.
Warning: Graphic image below
“I have seen horrific sights, including wildlife persecution and teenagers walking around with guns,” he said.
“I have seen birds, including a dead cormorant, hanging from nylon fishing wire and people throwing stones and bricks at snakes swimming across the water, yelling ‘it’s an adder, kill it’, when, in fact they are grass snakes, both of which are protected by the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981.”
Mr Wood, who is a support worker and studying geographical life sciences at Christ Church University, says the once-picturesque pond, which is classified as a site of special scientific interest, is also littered with discarded needles, beer cans and rubbish.
“The fly-tipping is really appalling, with sofas, car seats, beds, fridges all becoming the norm here, and often set fire to,” said the 25-year-old.
“Last summer I lost eight of my reptile survey sites to vandalism and fires.
“The area is a haven for wildlife and should be protected.
“I have recorded more than 1,500 specimens of reptile, rare invertebrates like stag beetle, birds such as kingfishers, cormorant, warbler, woodpecker, as well as natterjack toads and larger mammals including badgers and foxes.
“The authorities have to start taking responsibility and enforcing the wildlife and fishing laws, because many don’t have licences.
“It’s a special and beautiful place that should be treasured, not trashed.”
Efforts to clean up and regulate Reed Pond have been tried in the past and included the setting up of a fishing club to combat unlicensed angling and illegal poaching.
Recently retired nurse, Jenny Cole, helped run it until two years ago when it had to fold due to lack of support from the authorities. What is happening to the Reed Pond is so sad,” she said.
“We tried very hard with regular clean-ups and creating proper fishing pegs on the banks.
“The Ministry of Defence (MoD) did help and gave us a grant of £10,000 to put in some steps.
“But we got very little support from the police when we contacted them about criminality, even when someone was shooting a gun along the path leading to the pond from the estate.
“We would have loved it if the MoD had given us the pond so we might have been able to apply for funding to do things like put a fence around it and create an education centre and picnic site.
“The abuse of the site is shocking. We were regularly cleaning up things like syringes. But we haven’t given up on it and are still pressing for better supervision and enforcement.”
Reed Pond is part of the Old Park training area owned by the MoD.
MoD spokesman Daniel Hatton said: “We are aware of incidents of vandalism and criminal activity in the area around Reed Pond and are working with Kent Police to tackle the problem and deter future incidents.”
Mr Hatton added that the MoD is currently conducting a review of its estate but no decision has been made about the future of the site.
Environment Agency spokesman Rob Trowbridge said: “Reed Pond at Canterbury is regularly visited by Environment Agency fisheries officers.
"Any fisheries offences are noted and offenders dealt with by the courts. Fisheries offences can be reported on the 24/7 number 0800 807060. Other offences should be reported to the police.”
Sergeant Lee Thompson of Kent Police said: "On Friday, August 25 we were contacted by the owner of land in the Reed Pond area of Canterbury who made us aware of various incidents of antisocial behaviour there.
"Among the concerns raised were issues with nuisance motorcycles, fly-tipping and people fishing without a licence.
"Local officers have been made aware and will be increasing patrols in the area. We will also be working closely with our partners to address the issues raised."
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