HEARTLESS yobs used catapults to kill and maim ducklings at a Hampshire beauty spot.
The gang of young thugs used the mallards as “target practice”
while trespassing on a nature reserve at Furzedown Farm in Hythe.
Deryk Noble, who owns the land with his six children, saw the teenagers firing lead pellets at the defenceless creatures from just yards away.
Some of the baby ducks were dead when he arrived at the scene, off Frost Lane. One had a broken leg and another had its insides hanging out and had to be put down by a vet.
After chasing the yobs off, he rushed to call police – only to find the youths had returned in greater numbers just 45 minutes later for a second cruel assault.
Deryk’s son Martin stood up to them and they fled.
The sick act sparked outrage on social networking site Facebook, with residents in the Hythe and Waterside area urging the community to work together to find the “vile individuals”.
One popular idea is for residents to pay £10 towards a reward fund for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.
One resident posted that if 100 people “are sickened by this act”
and want to pay £10, £1,000 could be raised, encouraging someone to name the “scumbags”
Martin Noble has thanked the community for their support and is backing the call for a reward to catch the culprits.
He said: “All the Nobles are behind this as I’m sure half of Hythe are now. I’ve just been to check the remaining ducklings and two have broken legs.
“We are looking after them, hopefully they will make it back to health. We need to find all those responsible. There are roughly eight who had a part in it.”
Martin’s sister Lucy, 37, said: “My dad had been so excited to show the ducks to his first granddaughter who is visiting this weekend for his birthday.
Target practice “He saw them using the ducks as target practice.
“Why do some young people today think it is OK to do this sort of thing? We just find it unbelievable anybody would want to do this.”
The conservation area is well known in the New Forest and features a wide range of wildlife and plants.
Police were called shortly after the incident, on Thursday at 5.40pm, and have launched an appeal for witnesses.
A spokesman said four male and two female teenagers, all wearing caps and tracksuits, were involved in the catapult attack.
Three of the ducks were killed in the rampage.
A number of people were stopped and searched in the area in the hours that followed – but no weapons were recovered and no arrests have been made.
Anyone who witnessed the attack should contact PC Heather Barrow at Hythe police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.