Dear Sir,
If you go down in the woods today you’re in for a big surprise.  There is likely to be less wildlife these days, less wood as well, at least in the part of our woodland that I walk in.
The woodland walk from Gunn Lane to Clarence Chare and along the old railway line up to Beechfield roundabout is under threat. Young males (I won’t say men) are hunting with rifles with telescopic sights. Exactly why anybody needs a telescopic sight to kill a pigeon I’m not sure, they sit until you are within six feet of them before they work up the will to move.
Presumably these poor excuses for manhood are so unsure of themselves that they need that extra reassurance of a telescopic sight – a sort of comfort blanket. They are having a devastating effect on the pigeon population though; it is very noticeable how few we are seeing now, that applies to squirrels too.
Of course, pigeons aren’t the most popular of birds, especially in the town centre; but this is in a nature walk.  There they are part of the wildlife, a popular and easy meal for birds of prey if nothing else. Without pigeons those birds of prey will kill other birds.
When the idiots have wiped out the pigeons will they stop killing? Of course not, they will kill other creatures to convince themselves that they are “men”.
The other problem is the theft of wood from the nature walks, fallen trees and branches. This wood is being taken by people with wood burning fires, a cheap source of fuel. The problem is that all the wood is being taken and it is bound to have a detrimental effect on the wildlife.
All this fallen wood provides a protective environment for small creatures, without it the place is like a desert. The woodland from Gunn Lane to Clarence Chare is particularly bad and the other stretch is going the same way. Fallen wood also provides the world where the creatures at the bottom of the food chain live. The rotting wood is vital for a healthy wildlife, which is in enough trouble without these thieves making it worse. I have spoken to a council representative responsible for the environment and I didn’t get the impression that they were aware of the problem.  As the stock of fallen wood runs out there is evidence of trees being chopped down and removed, so a problem there is and it won’t go away by itself. I would like to appeal for help from people who walk through our nature walks. We dog owners, for instance, walk through there daily.
If you see a private person taking wood they are stealing it. If you see someone carrying a gun in the woods they are up to no good. They do not have permission to shoot there and if they have a gun they aren’t just taking it for a walk, they are killing wildlife. Please ring the council (300700) and/or the police (101) quickly with a description, a vehicle number if possible.
We are so lucky in Newton Aycliffe to have beautiful nature walks with an amazing array of wildlife, trees, flowers and fungii but it has to be protected from its greatest enemy, the human idiot.
Walk through our woodlands starting in late February and watch everything awaken after winter, it really is a wondrous place. See it through March and April and by May you will know why it is worth protecting.  All of us who walk in it have a duty to protect it.
Ric Hargreaves