Cruel snipers taking potshots at waterfowl on a Doncaster lake have sickened people who have done their best to transform the area into a local amenity.
Two ornamental ducks have been found shot dead by yobs with air rifles at the old Edlington brickponds, which achieved national notoriety in 2009 when two boys aged nine and 11 were attacked and tortured by two other boys while playing there.
Since then, a dedicated group of volunteers has been working hard to transform the site, giving it a new name and obtaining funds to clean it up.
But the problem of anti-social behaviour at Martinwells Lake has not gone away, despite regular patrols by neighbourhood wardens and police community support officers.
Edlington Safer Neighbourhood Team officers on patrol at the lake found two ducks, one a Muscovy and the other a mallard, dead in the water.
One had been shot through the neck and the other had been attacked by a fox, probably after having been maimed by a gunshot wound.
Wildlife crime officer PC Dean Stockdale said: “It’s very saddening that this is happening on our doorstep. There are only so many ducks on the lake and now there are three less, because another was found dead at the weekend, although we don’t know if that was shot as well.
“The effect of this on children who might visit the pond and see this is also something to be concerned about.
“The lake is owned by Doncaster Council so it is a public place where using air rifles is illegal. “We are carrying out patrols and we have had quite a few prosecutions for anti-social behaviour over the past 12 months. Should any evidence come to light to suggest an offender, they will be prosecuted.”
Other anti-social behaviour reported at Martinwells Lake over the past few months includes youths throwing stones at swans, and others riding off-road motorbikes.
Police have carried out operations with night vision binoculars, and plain clothes patrols in the daytime, to try to catch the offenders.
Don Valley MP Caroline Flint, who has worked hard to improve the lake after the torture case, said: “This wilful killing of wildlife is disgusting. The wildlife at Martinwells Lake and other habitats in Doncaster is precious.
“It is beyond me how anyone gets pleasure from killing ducks. I hope the police catch the criminals who did this.”
Edlington ward councillor Phil Cole added: “I’m proud Martinwells Lake has swans and even muscovy ducks, natives of central America. Whoever committed these atrocious killings needs to be caught.
“I hope witnesses who saw the killings, or who saw anyone with an air rifle, will report their information confidentially.”