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Two red deer drowned as park is targeted

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 March 2011

Gavin Clarke ground man. Alstone Wildlife Park, Highbridge, were two deer were killed.

Gavin Clarke ground man. Alstone Wildlife Park, Highbridge, were two deer were killed.

Archant

THE owner of a Somerset wildlife park says she is being ‘persecuted’ after two of her deer were drowned, and two others had their horns mutilated.

Gavin Clarke ground man. Alstone Wildlife Park, Highbridge, were two deer were killed.

Helen Duckett, owner of Alstone Wildlife Park near Highbridge, spoke to the Mercury after two red deer were drowned at the park last week having being chased out of their enclosure and into the River Brue in the early hours of March 15.

Two male deers have also had their horns mutilated by knives, while in the past five months all 40 birds in one of the park’s aviaries have been stolen.

Staff were first made aware of the break-in at around midnight, when grounds man Gavin Cooke received an anonymous phone call telling him that the deer had escaped and were in Clyce Road in Highbridge, over the river from the park.

Having crossed the bridge and gone onto the road, he realised that the deer were in fact still on the river’s southern bank, where several had become stuck in mud of the river’s bank.

Although he rescued several of the animals, two were stuck, and were washed away when the tide went out the next morning.

Staff realised that two panels of the deer’s seven-foot high wire enclosure had been taken out and that the antlers from two of the animals had been cut, with one removed completely.

The same two panels were also found removed this weekend, and Mr Cooke received another anonymous call on Sunday evening, although the deer were found in their enclosure.

Mrs Duckett, who has run the park for the past two decades, said: “The deer would never have run into the river, not in a hundred years, unless they were chased.

“We feel persecuted, as this is only the last in a series of incidents. I’ve gone out in the morning and found the doors to some of the enclosures open, with chipmunks and guinea pigs running around.”

She said that in three incidents since November, one aviary had been broken into, and all of the birds, including Cockatoos, Kakarikis and Diamond Doves had been taken.

Mrs Duckett added that because of the incidents, the park would now not open for Easter, but would hopefully do so for the summer.

Sergeant Ian Kennett of Avon and Somerset Police said: “We are aware of what has happened at the park, and we are looking into it.”

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