GANGS of youths armed with catapults have been killing ducks at a Southampton pond, according to residents.

A dog walker has vented her anger after spotting two boys “taking aim” at ducks paddling on Shirley Pond.

The woman said she also saw a dead pigeon at the park off Warren Avenue which she believed had been shot.

Wishing to remain unnamed due to the fear of being targeted herself, she warned: “People who harm animals as children go on to harm humans later on in life.”

The woman had been walking her dogs on Saturday evening at the green space in the Shirley ward of Southampton.

She said: “I saw two lads. As I was approaching, they were standing on the jetty. I thought they looked suspicious.”

When she realised, they were targeting ducks she shouted at them and took out her phone to record their “appalling behaviour”.

The teens who she thinks were between 14 and 16-years-old then ran off.

She added: “I just got really angry. I shouted at them ‘Why are you running away, you cowards?'”

“It’s cruel and they should be ashamed of themselves.

“I just want them to stop. I want them to understand what they are doing is wrong.

“They do not have the right to behave like that. The vast majority of people go there to enjoy the nature.”

The dog walker, who phoned the police, told how another woman and her young children had been walking past the pond at the time.

However, the children became “visibly distressed” because they had seen birds being killed.

She added: “Shirley Pond and the surrounding Lordsdale Greenway is important for wildlife and provides crucial outdoor space and contact with nature for local people.

"At this time of year, the ducks and other waterfowl would normally be nesting, and soon we would all be finding delight in watching chicks and ducklings. Not this year.”

A spokesperson from Hampshire Police said: “We can confirm that we received reports of anti-social behaviour at Shirley Pond at 6.09pm on Saturday 3 April; after a member of the public saw a group of young people firing stones at ducks.

"Anyone with further information is asked to call 101, quoting 44210125554.”