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Stone curlews escape nature reserve intruders

PUBLISHED: 14:05 26 May 2009 | UPDATED: 21:34 07 July 2010

A WILDLIFE disaster was narrowly avoided after thieves drove across a nature reserve threatening the existence of rare nesting stone curlews.

Relieved wardens at the Thetford Heath reserve revealed that none of the birds, or their infants, were hurt during the incident - the second time the land has been targeted within a week.

A WILDLIFE disaster was narrowly avoided after thieves drove across a nature reserve threatening the existence of rare nesting stone curlews.

Relieved wardens at the Thetford Heath reserve revealed that none of the birds, or their infants, were hurt during the incident - the second time the land has been targeted within a week.

With the public banned from the nature reserve during the summer, Darrell Stevens, field officer at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and investigating police officers believe thieves were using the precious site to try to get on to the neighbouring Gorse Industrial Estate at Barnham.

Mr Stevens said: “We don't allow anyone up on the heath as it would disturb the birds - we don't even go on there ourselves. So to have someone driving across the land could have been even more serious than it was.

“It was fortunate that the stone curlews' eggs had already hatched and it was just luck that none of the birds were killed.”

The area, managed by the wildlife trust, is described as a fine example of open Breckland grass heath. While it is banned to the public during the summer, Mr Stevens said stone curlews can be spotted at a partner site on Weeting Heath.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said a fence was cut at the nature reserve, in Elveden Road, before vehicles drove across the land and on to the industrial estate some time between 9pm on Thursday, May 14 and 7am the next day.

Officers are linking the crime with the theft of scrap metal and an attempted burglary on the industrial estate overnight between May 12 and May 13.

Mr Stevens said the wildlife trust would work with police to look at security measures and increase patrols at the nature reserve.

Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Stefan Henriksen on 01284 774100.


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