Somerset nature reserve vandalised causing £7000 of damage

Credit: ITV News West Country

A wildlife haven in Somerset has been vandalised twice in a week, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

The Catcott Nature Reserve, near Glastonbury, has had signs destroyed, benches uprooted and information boards smashed.

The vandals returned to the site the day after damage was first found. Credit: ITV News West Country

The Somerset Wildlife Trust told ITV News it’s experienced a number of similar incidents and fears more in the future.

Among what’s been vandalised was a wooden dragonfly bench, especially made for people to use and enjoy.

Reserve manager Mark Blake said: "Way markers have been destroyed, benches from the hide have been thrown in the ditch, interpretation boards smashed.

"I came back with volunteers to help me retrieve these items out of the ditches and ponds and found that whoever had done this had come back - they’ve destroyed even more. We have had episodes of vandalism in the past and I am concerned. It takes a lot of time and money to install and make these things and as we repair them I am concerned they’re going to be destroyed again."

The Trust raises money through membership subscriptions, legacies, community fundraising and annual appeals. Credit: ITV News West Country

The vandals’ second visit in a week saw them return with tools to inflict maximum damage. They even tried to saw through a signpost before smashing its arrows.

Catcott reserve is packed with wildlife and what has happened has shocked staff. They hope people keep visiting, despite the incidents.

Way markers and signs around the site have been damaged. Credit: ITV News West Country

Kevin Anderson, a visitor experience officer, hopes the incidents won't put people off visiting.

The cost of replacement following the damaging is estimated at £7000. Fundraising Director for the Somerset Wildlife Trust, Katie Arber, said:

"We just don’t budget to replace the things that have been damaged here in the last few days. We reckon it’ll be about £7,000 to replace everything that’s been damaged and we now need to think about where that money’s going to come from."

Credit: ITV News West Country

The vandalism has been reported to Avon and Somerset Police.

The Trust is now thinking about options to better protect its reserves, including cameras.

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