Wildlife boss's fury at bird shootings; CALL: Sanctuary owner fears a child will be killed unless weapons are outlawed.
A CALL has gone out for police to get tougher on anyone carrying crossbows and air rifles in public places.
After two ducks were shot dead in separate incidents in Warwickshire, Geoff Grewcock, who runs the Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, in Nuneaton, has made the plea with the grim warning: "It could be your child next."
He said something must be done before someone is killed while walking along a canal towpath or in a public park.
Mr Grewcock made his call following two sickening incidents in the county over the weekend.
In Leamington, a duck was shot in the head with a crossbow bolt in Newbold Comyn Park on Saturday afternoon.
Three youths, aged between 15 and 17, were seen running off towards Radford Semele.
One of them was hiding the crossbow under his coat. Twenty-four hours later, police alerted Mr Grewcock and his staff to a duck badly injured on the footpath of the Cock and Bear bridge, overlooking the Coventry Canal in Nuneaton.
Mr Grewcock said: "The mallard was in a lot of distress on the pavement and was seen by a lot of people. It had crawled up the bank to die. When we got there, we picked it up and it died in our arms. It had been shot in the head with a pellet."
He could not conceal his anger. "We are getting three or four call-outs a month to incidents like this," he said.
"It seems to be getting worse.
I totally condemn these people.
They make me sick.
"My worry is that a child will be killed accidentally and then there will be a big outcry with everyone calling for a ban"
Two years ago, a duck given the name of Wellard the Mallard made national news when it was found at Stubbs Pool, in the Camp Hill area of Nuneaton, with a screwdriver embedded in its body.
It evaded all attempts by Mr Grewcock and his staff to capture it, and managed to live for another year with the screwdriver still in place.
Mr Grewcock said: "We were called out last year to find that Wellard, after all he'd been through, was finally dead. He'd been shot in the head. He's now buried in a pets' cemetery in Galley Common, Nuneaton, with the inscription Wellard Mallard."
Police are appealing for witnesses of the crossbow attack in Leamington and the air rifle shooting in Nuneaton.
Two of the youths seen running away in Newbold Comyn were white - one has short brown hair and was wearing jeans, a purple top and white trainers and the other has short dark hair and wearing blue jeans and a white top. The third youth is described as of mixed race and wearing a black coat under which he was hiding the crossbow.
Anyone with information is asked to call Warwickshire police on 01926 415000.
At present, it is an offence for anyone aged under 17 to buy, own or have a crossbow with them in a public place.
It is an also offence for any person, regardless of age, to be in possession of an air weapon in a public place without a reasonable excuse.
It is an offence to sell an air weapon to anyone under 17.
SICKENED... Geoff Grewcock with a previously rescued duck and (inset) Wellard the Mallard who survived being attacked by a screwdriver only to die after being shot in the head months later.