Swan death - call for tighter gun laws

Thursday, 22 February, 2007

A SUFFOLK MP has called for a review of airgun legislation in the wake of a swan being killed by a gun-wielding monster at a nature spot in the county.

David Ruffley, MP for the Bury St Edmunds constituency which covers Needham Market, said it was time to ask questions about whether the weapons are ending up in the wrong hands following the incident at Needham Lake.

The Evening Star has stumped up a £250 reward to catch the person responsible for shooting the swan last Wednesday. The bird later had to be put down by a vet.

Mr Ruffley said: 'I think we should have a review of airguns.

'I don't believe in a Big Brother or nanny state and I'm not too worried about people doing airgun target practice but people are not being responsible in the modern age.

'We need a review of airgun regulations and the law relating to them to find out whether the right safeguards are in place.'

Police are continuing to hunt the person responsible for the shooting and are appealing to anyone who was at the lake that day to come forward with information.

Dave Hughes, countryside officer for Mid Suffolk District Council, said he hoped the incident was a one-off.

He said: 'I know of other places in the country where this has happened but it is the first time it has happened here.'

Wendy Marchant, one of the Liberal Democrat district councillors representing Needham Market, has called for CCTV cameras to be installed at the lake in Coddenham Road.

She said: 'Car parking metres are repeatedly vandalized and money taken. Now a swan has been shot.

'I think CCTV would be helpful.'

Despite there being no local history of gun-related attacks on wildlife, gun injuries inflicted on animals is becoming an increasing problem across the region.

RSPCA figures show that in East Anglia there were 58 reports of animals being shot last year, of which 29 were water birds.

Meanwhile airguns hit the national headlines this week after a 13-year-old boy in Staffordshire was cleared of the manslaughter of his friend who died after being shot in the face with an air rifle.

Anyone with information about the swan attack, which happened between 7am and 5pm, is asked to contact Pc Robert Bartley at Stowmarket Police on 01284 774100.

What do you think of this attack? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail .