North Wales Police's Rural Crime Unit recently revealed that it had dealt with a case where a man had killed a heron in order to save a duckling. The bizarre case involved the self-described “animal lover” deciding to save the duckling after it had been eaten by killing the heron and ripping its stomach open. Bizarrely, the duckling survived the incident, but the man was later arrested. Police decided not to charge him as he was elderly and vulnerable, although that decision has since been questioned.
Many people online have insisted that the man ought to be charged. Not only did he commit an act of animal cruelty in a misguided attempt to protect one species from another, but herons are actually an endangered species. Their numbers have reduced massively as humans continue to expand into their natural habitat and as a result the heron has a protected status under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Killing one, or even attempting to kill one, can result in a fine or prison time depending on the case.
Office day today filing all of the investigations we have completed.— RuralCrimeTeam™ (@NWPRuralCrime) March 26, 2018
One involved a male who was cautioned for killing a heron.
He had witnessed it eating a newly born duckling so decided to kill the heron in order to rescue the duckling from its stomach.#bizarre pic.twitter.com/UgVh8o09je
Conservationist Lee Dingain, who works with the Wader Quest charity to protect herons and other shorebirds, was particularly incensed. “Utterly ridiculous!” she wrote on Twitter. “Not too elderly to kill an apparently ‘protected’ and not to mention formidable bird. The heron is the vulnerable one! Decisions like this are a major part of the reason why wildlife crime is not taken seriously. If he had stabbed someone he would be prosecuted.
“Clearly a protected bird has been illegally killed on this occasion, so a crime has been committed.”
North Wales police however have defended their decision, writing:
“These decisions are never taken lightly and a number of factors are addressed. This was a vulnerable elderly man, who confessed voluntarily to the action with no previous convictions.”
Strangely he actually did rescue the duckling alive from the dead herons stomach. But obviously he was then left with a dead heron.— RuralCrimeTeam™ (@NWPRuralCrime) March 26, 2018
You couldn't make this up! pic.twitter.com/8cVzB9r3YR
Whether or not the man is convicted, this remains a pretty clear cut case of misguided efforts and mixed up priorities. When one’s love for nature compels you to start ripping internal organs out of the very wildlife you admire, you should probably stop and wonder whether you’ve lost sight of the forest because of the trees.
Earlier this year an internet blogger was heavily criticised after she revealed she had put her pet fox on a vegan diet. Most internet users noticed, at a quick glance, that the fox was clearly starving to death because of the inadequate diet.