A WOODEN sculpture of a bear has been removed from a local park - to prevent it being stolen!
Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) bosses have taken away the three foot wooden bear sculpture from Redwood Park, Orrell, after local residents had spotted its ankles had been sawn away.
The bear was carved during a live demonstration by chainsaw sculptor Tim Burgess and was only installed in the park last month.
It completed a set of four animals funded through ward councillors Paul and Jeanette Prescott - an owl, squirrel and eagle – which were put in the park earlier this year.
Coun Paul Prescott said: “Somebody, over a period of time, has been cutting under the ankles of the bear and they are about two-thirds of the way through.
“So we have arranged with WLCT to remove the bear before it goes missing.
“We will have to repair it and it will cost a lot of money.
“We now fear they will come back to steal the other sculptures we have in the park.
“This is such a shame it has come to this.
“We have had to get a tractor to remove the bear, which all costs money.
“It is just mindless. Someone has destroyed and defaced the statue which was put in for people to enjoy.
“Children go to the park and give the statue a big hug.
“I hope the vandals get caught and serve a long sentence.
“We have spoken to residents and asked them to be vigilant.
“If anyone has any information call the police on 101 or call us anonymously on 01942 736242.”
Members of WLCT removed the bear on Friday using a large tractor.
Councillors Paul and Jeanette Prescott now plan to gain the help of sculptor Tim Burgess to repair the bear and they hope to reinstall it in the children’s play area, where it is less enclosed in a bid to stop vandals attacking it again.
Martin Jones, service development officer at WLCT, said: “These vandals should respect the park and understand they are spoiling it for everybody else.
“These sculptures were put in the park for everybody to enjoy and this is just mindless vandalism.
“They cost a lot of money and we have now had to remove the bear to stop someone from further damaging it.”