Published: 00:01, 10 June 2018
Two dog walkers have reported seeing a "masked gunman" roaming around a Whitstable nature reserve on the hunt for squirrels.
The man, reportedly wearing full camouflage clothing and a balaclava over his face, was spotted carrying a rifle on Duncan Down near Whitstable by two people on the same evening.
The witnesses, one a school teacher, the other in charge of overseeing nature reserves in Kent, claim to have seen a man in his 30s bearing the firearm in Gorrell Wood, which runs along the Gorrell stream.
The man was described as being of medium build and height.
On one occasion, he was seen near St Andrews Close – a residential cul-de-sac near Duncan Down.
The witness believed the man was using the rifle to shoot squirrels, after reportedly seeing a number of the animals lying dead by his feet.
Later, the man was spotted about 600m upstream.
When challenged, he reportedly claimed to have been given permission by a farmer to operate a firearm on the land, but refused to give the farmer's name.
Cllr Ashley Clark, a retired police officer who now runs community group Friends of Duncan Down, said: "Nobody has permission to bring firearms onto the village greens, or for that matter on adjoining fields owned by Devine Homes.
"This is happening on a nature reserve of all places, where families go to see animals and not to see them being exterminated.
"We've got quite a population of grey squirrels. They are wildlife, and people appreciate them.
"We aim to make this a family-friendly and a safe place.
"Anything that interferes with that feeling of safety that people have will not be tolerated. This conduct is a criminal offence.
"It is a serious and worrying matter for legitimate users of the area, and I would urge anyone who sees anyone with a firearm in the area to dial 999 immediately as a crime is being committed.
"If anyone has information as to the identity of the offender I would ask them to contact me in order that I can liaise with the local police."
Both sightings of the man were in the early evening on May 21.
But police said they were unaware of any reports of a gunman on Duncan Down.
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