Police investigate report of catapult attack on swans in East Boldon
Police are investigating after reports of teenagers attacking swans with a catapult in East Boldon.
The East Boldon Forum residents’ group contacted Northumbria Police after a member of the public reported seeing two boys taking potshots at the birds at the Boldon Flats nature reserve off Station Road shortly after 2pm on Monday, April 26.
Spokeswoman Delia McNally said the woman who witnessed the attack had contacted Forum member Peter Collins, who monitors wildlife activity in the area on behalf of the group and he had passed the report on to police.
Two youths aged 14 to 15 had been involved: “They are not supposed to be there,” said Delia.
"It is clearly signposted so as not to disturb the birds during nesting season.”
Boldon Flats is a popular spot for birdwatchers and recent months have seen an upturn in the number of visitors to the reserve as coronavirus regulations meant people could not venture far from home.
Lockdown had seen more people taking advantage of their local countryside but had also seen an upturn in anti-social behaviour in the area, said Delia.
"It has given people a greater appreciation of what is on their doorstep – we have got people coming through from Sunderland every day to see the birds – but at the same time it has attracted the wrong sort of attention,” she said.
Forum members have been overwhelmed by the response from the public after details of the incident were posted on the group’s Facebook page.
"We have had 12,500 people that have been reached and 141 people have shared the post because they are so concerned,” said Delia.
The latest incident comes just days after Sunderland City Council was forced to erect a fence to protect swans in Roker Park who moved as a result of their usual nesting area being disturbed.
A Northumbria Police spokesperson confirmed the force had received a report of an attack on the swans at Boldon Flats.
"Police received a report of youths firing objects at swans at Boldon Flats Nature Reserve on Monday, April 26,” she said.
“At around 3.15pm officers attended the scene but no one was located and the swans were safe and well.”