Police patrol Hartlepool park after yobs spotted shooting wildlife with air rifles

Police patrols will be increased after yobs were seen shooting wildlife at a country park.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 10:29 am
Wildlife at Summerhill Country Park and Outdoor Nature Reserve has been targeted by yobs with air rifles.
Wildlife at Summerhill Country Park and Outdoor Nature Reserve has been targeted by yobs with air rifles.

Hartlepool neighbourhood police officers were made aware of a number of sightings of men with what are believed to be air rifles shooting wildlife at the town’s Summerhill Country Park and Outdoor Nature Reserve.

Numerous birds have been killed and Cleveland Police recently issued an appeal for information after crossbow bolts were found embedded in a nesting box.

Over the Easter weekend, at least four adult males were seen carrying air rifles in the park in daylight hours, prompting a 999 response from police.

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As much as 900 square metres of grass was destroyed at the park in a fire in March.

Teams from across the force, including Hartlepool’s neighbourhood officers, the Dog Support Unit and the Cleveland & Durham Specialist Operations Unit, will continue to attend the area.

Hartlepool Neighbourhoods Chief Inspector Mark Haworth said: “These reports are obviously very concerning and we’re taking this action to keep Summerhill staff and visitors safe, as well as to protect the wildlife there.

“We’ll continue working with our Community Safety Partnership colleagues to tackle the issues and identify and deal with offenders. I’d also urge anyone with information to contact Cleveland Police via the 101 number.”

Gemma Ptak, assistant director (preventative and community based services) with Hartlepool Borough Council, added: “Illegal activity such as this causes us serious concern and we are not prepared to tolerate it.

“We are grateful to Cleveland Police for organising these patrols and we would also ask visitors to the site and nearby residents to support officers by calling 101 if they notice any suspicious activity on the site.

“Summerhill is a very popular destination and it is important to recognise that the vast majority of visitors use the site safely and responsibly and we would like to thank them for that.”

Wildlife at the park was threatened again in March when as much as 900 square metres of grass were destroyed in a fire, which park officials described as the “largest” suffered by the beauty spot in years.

If you don’t want to speak to police, you can pass information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers via their website www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by phoning them on 0800 555 111.

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