A Wigan nature enthusiast is urging residents to respect wildlife after a summer of alarming incidents at a well-known beauty spot.
David Earley has come forward to ask for an end to the spate of concerning attacks on birds and trees at Amberswood between Ince and Hindley.
Mr Earley, who lives near the reserve, spoke out after several months in which swans have been sadistically killed, large areas of grassland set on fire in what are thought to be deliberate blazes and mature trees wantonly chopped down.
Mr Earley has shared his concerns with Greater Manchester Police and has already got the force to act by stepping up the number of PCSO patrols around Amberswood.
He is urging Wiganers to remember that around the world natural habitat is disappearing at an alarming rate and reminding people how delicate the places where wildlife live are.
He also wants people to remember to leave the countryside clean and tidy if they visit, because litter carelessly discarded can be devastating for animals.
Mr Earley said: “The reports of attacks on wildlife are disappointing. Amberswood is a much-loved area enjoyed by thousands of people each year to view the birds, flora and fauna, and for the health benefits being outdoors can bring although these incidents remind us nature areas are not crime-free.
“The public should be vigilant and confident to report anything of concern to the police.
“It is important to preserve nature at biodiverse sites such as Amberswood and others in the borough as the world, including the UK, lost 58 per cent of its wildlife populations between 1970 and 2010 and is predicted to lose 67 per cent of its wildlife by 2020 according to the Zoological Society of London.
“I believe more and more of us are appreciating what is on offer close to where we live which is good but these statistics are a stark reminder of their fragility.
“We can all do our bit to help by looking out for items that could cause problems such as discarded fishing line which I often pick up along the nearby canal and I appeal to anglers also to pick up this type of litter and not leave it in the environment.
“The effects of this and other plastics, as has been seen in the media recently, can be devastating and living in cleaner areas can help to reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour.
“Organising or joining litter patrols are also a great way of assisting.”
Wigan’s wildlife has struggled to cope with anti-social behaviour in recent months, with one particularly sickening incident involving a swan being lured to a bridge at Amberswood and then killed by having a heavy object dropped on it.
One conservationist was so concerned he arranged for a charity to take the remaining Amberswood swans to safety in Saddleworth.
Wildlife-related crimes or incidents should be reported to the police on 101 or by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The RSPCA can be informed of animal cruelty on 0300 1234 999.