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Axe gang target buzzard chicks; Yobs in bid to hack down tree.

Byline: By TINA MILES

AN AXE-WIELDING gang tried to chop down a tree to steal rare chicks.

Locals fear yobs in the area may have been trying to take the young buzzards for illegal hunting.

Police today said they were still searching for the youths following the incident in Knowsley Village on Sunday.

Vikki Bannon was walking her dog when she confronted the armed gang as they hacked into the mature pine tree.

She said: "I saw the gang trying to cut the tree down with axes, it was horrendous.

"I asked what he was doing because I knew there was a chick in there. He said he'd seen two and hewas having one.

"Then when I told him to stop he just started laughing and asked what I was going to do about it. I called 999."

Ms Bannon, 37, said yobs had targeted the area before.

She said: "Last year there was one chick and thieves tried to steal it.

"We didn't think they had nested this year, but since we realised we've been trying to keep a watch on it."

The area of woodland near Pinfold Lane was cordoned off on Monday, while the tree was felled for pubic safety.

The male and female chicks, who are too young to fly, were today being cared for by the RSPCA.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said the birds would be taken to a centre in Cheshire to be assessed.

Buzzards are commonly used for hunting, although it is illegal to own the wild birds without a licence.

Cllr Eddie Connor said: "It is extremely disappointing that a minority of individuals are damaging such precious areas."

Anyone with information should call police on 0151-709 6010 or Crimestoppers on 0800 489 6000.

tinamiles@liverpoolecho.co.uk

'I saw the gang trying to cut the tree down with axes, it was horrendous. They started laughing. I called 999 .'

Local residentVikki Bannon

CAPTION(S):

WILD THING: One of the buzzard nestlings Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY; CHOPPED: Knowsley Rangers James McDonnell, David Smith and Kevin Bushell assess the damage; SANCTUARY: The buzzard nest in the tree
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 18, 2008
Words:350
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