Dog thugs go hunting in city park

From the Echo:

Dog thugs go hunting in city park
Mar 6 2007
by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo

GANGS of yobs are using dogs to hunt and kill wildlife illegally at a Merseyside beauty spot.

Frightened residents have reported youths going into Croxteth country park day and night to track down foxes and rabbits and shoot birds.

Some claim the culprits have brandished the mutilated bodies of animals when challenged by passers-by about their behaviour.

Police today condemned the activity and said action was being taken to tackle the yobs.

Uniformed officers will patrol the sprawling park on quad bikes to try to catch offenders in the act.

PC Steve Harris, Merseyside police’s wildlife officer, said: “People have reported incidents to us and it may be a bigger problem than we were aware of.

“This is a place of natural beauty and this activity is affecting quality of life for decent members of the public who use the park. We are determined to do something about it.

“The offenders tend to use large, aggressive, terrier-type dogs – not necessarily pit bulls, although there have been allegations about those.

“When they have been challenged by residents, they have been extremely abusive and quite intimidating. That, along with the wildlife offences, will not be tolerated.

“We are stepping up patrols in the area and extra resources are being put in, including officers using quad bikes.”

Last year, two new-born calves at the park’s farm were horrifically killed by an out-of-control dog, and residents condemned security arrangements.

Croxteth councillor Rose Bailey said she received frequent complaints about youths using dogs and air rifles to kill wildlife.

“I am told youths have set dogs into foxholes, then used spades to dig the animals out.

“They have been seen holding dead animals in the air as a trophy or allowing the dogs to attack them.

“Their squeals of terror can be heard around the nearby housing estate.”

A spokesman for Liverpool council which runs the park said: “Our parks are not dangerous and it is a small minority of irresponsible dog owners involved in these incidents.

“We are working closely with the police and using our own security staff to target dog owners who do not keep their animals under control.”

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