No charges will be laid after two eels were killed near the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.
The reserve called police in October after it was alerted to a picture on Facebook apparently showing two youths on the reserve grounds holding two dead longfin eels, believed to be about 70 years old….
“No offence has been committed, therefore it is not possible for police to lay charges”.
No offense. They killed unprotected wild animals, in a public space, away from anyone who might be offended. In fact, the only offense was ever going to be that they broke into the reserve – but that was always a mere assumption on the part of the staff there.
He said police “deplored” the actions of the eel captors and had spoken to the youths.
That they wasted good food is a pity. But we’ve gone way down the wrong road when fishing is considered deplorable by police.
…Willowbank manager Dale Hedgcock said staff were disappointed no charges would be laid.
“We are obviously a bit disappointed that these guys will have no consequences for what they’ve done, but there’s not a lot we can do,” he said.
They went fishing. Legally. No, there most certainly is not “a lot we can do”. But here’s one thing: you can butt out and mind your own business!
“We really had to rely on the police and I believe they did all they could do. It’s just unfortunate that the eels had to suffer, the Willowbank staff had to suffer and the wider community has suffered too.”
Translation: When these wild animals were hunted, we tried to use the law to compensate for our hurt feelings. I do wonder myself if that attempt may land them in court.
There had been one positive outcome from the situation, Hedgcock said.
“We have been pleased by the support from the public who have said this sort of behaviour is not OK. People have realised these eels are not in abundance. They are a threatened species which need to be looked after.”
And that’s the problem. The Wildlife Reserve staff point to the eels being a threatened species. But in spite of that tag, it is legal to fish for them. Perhaps time would be better spent lobbying for legal protection, rather than persecuting those who act within the law, by using vague (and not so vague) implications that somehow they broke it.
The reserve was looking at installing security cameras.
“We will keep on this to make sure nothing similar happens again,” he said.
Note to those funding the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. The people who receive your donations are going to install security cameras to stop people taking photos in their car park.
Wait, that makes no sense. Oh, I get it – they’re doing the whole “they’re evil criminals” thing again. Let me amend that.
Note to those funding the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. The people who receive your donations are going to install security cameras as a PR stunt because their witch-hunt was unsuccessful.
Not to mention… well, it seems that they already have cameras. Or claim to.
The reserve was also working on a joint initiative with the Styx Living Laboratory Trust to develop an eel sanctuary.
“As well as that we also want people to think of Willowbank as a sanctuary itself. These eels are hand-reared and tame. They are in a sanctuary already as far as we’re concerned and should be treated that way,” Hedgcock said.
Of course, the problem here is that they tamed the eels, but left them in the wild. Meaning that the first fools who came along were able to kill them without effort.
I’m sickened by the campaign against these young men. There is no evidence, nor has there ever been any evidence, that they broke any law. They went fishing. They unknowingly caught a fish someone had been feeding. They put it on Facebook.
But the people who were feeding those fish contacted the Press, and made wild, unproven allegations that they had somehow broken the law. They had not. They implied that killing these animals was illegal. It was not.
Let’s call this what it is: a witch-hunt.
So let me leave you with question: what’s worse, going fishing or slander?