AN ENVIRONMENTAL champion is seeking support to set up an education programme for Furness schools in an attempt to drive down cruelty to wildlife.

Elisabeth Ashleigh, owner of Bardsea Bird Sanctuary, is soon to meet with Cumbria Police, Wildlife Protection officers, councillors and other professional bodies to discuss a possible education programme alongside other initiatives to tackle wildlife cruelty in Furness.

This follows two serious cases of cruelty to gulls whereby a gull was shot with an air rifle in Hawcoat Lane, Barrow, and another incident where two Barrow teenagers were allegedly seen kicking a gull ‘like a football’, which later had to be euthanised as a result of its injuries.

Mrs Ashleigh said: “More needs to be done to educate children about animals as there has been so much hatred towards wildlife, particularly gulls. This needs to be taken seriously as the kind of children who hurt animals will one day grow up and do worse things to humans.

“We’ll be discussing an education programme for schools and refuge facilities amongst other related issues. At the top of the agenda will be how the police are dealing with the latest incidents.”

A spokesman from Cumbria Police said: “Cumbria Police treats all reports of wildlife offences seriously and has dedicated wildlife officers who work with agencies around the county and beyond tackling wildlife offending in all its forms.

“Officers have appealed and continue to appeal for any information on wildlife offending to be reported to the police and, where there is evidence of criminality, action will be taken.”