Wildlife Crime around Bodenham Lake

Thursday 1st February 2018

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust alarmed at a number of wildlife crime incidents centred around the popular Bodenham Lake Nature Reserve.

On Thursday 25th January, a dead barn owl was found near the lake shore, having been shot. These increasingly rare and beautiful birds are declining across the UK, and pose absolutely no threat to human livelihoods. This sad incident follows a number of otter deaths, just south of Bodenham Lake.

The Trust’s Sophie Cowling commented “In November 2017 two dead otters were found near Wellington in suspicious circumstances. This follows reports of illegal trapping of otter in the nearby area. We are awaiting results of a post mortem from Cardiff University.”

Otters are afforded the highest level of legal protection in the UK, to halt the near extinction of this beautiful mammal in much of the country by the mid-20th century. The many lakes and wetlands in the Lugg valley are a vital refuge for this secretive species, so any loss of breeding adults is a serious blow for the Herefordshire population.

As protected species, any details about these crimes should be reported to the West Mercia Police Wildlife Crime officer on 101. If you have details about the shooting of the barn owl, call 101 and quote crime reference number 154 s290118.

HWT have also had recent reports of someone illegally moving invasive American signal crayfish from the River Lugg at Bodenham to other watercourses in Herefordshire. This poses a huge threat to our native white clawed crayfish, as the American species often carries the crayfish plague – an infection deadly to our native crawfish that are now at risk of extinction. If you see a crayfish trap without an Environment Agency licence tag please call 0800 80 70 60.

Bodenham Lake nature reserve is owned by Herefordshire Council and managed by Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, in partnership with New Leaf Sustainable Development Ltd. Herefordshire Wildlife Trust run a number of education events, guided walks and school visits to the reserve. More information about Bodenham Lake and how to get involved can be found at: www.herefordshirewt.org/bodenhamlakeproject 

Barn Owls

Perhaps the most familiar owl, the barn owl (Tyto alba) will often hunt during the daytime and can be seen 'quartering' over fields and grasslands looking for its next small mammal meal. However, barn owls are also perfectly adapted to hunt in darkness with deadly precision: their silent flight and heart-shaped face which directs high-frequency sounds, help them to find mice and voles in the vegetation.

How to identify
Unmistakeable: the barn owl is ghostly white below, mottled silver-grey and buff above with a heart-shaped, white face and black eyes.

  • Length: 33-39cm
  • Wingspan: 89cm
  • Weight: 300g
  • Average Lifespan: 4 years

Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.