The West Country is being plagued by a spate of newt thefts, the Somerset Wildlife Trust announced this week. Net-wielding gangs are descending on nature reserves and scooping up the amphibians, apparently with the aim of selling them to pet shops or for scientific research. The Trust is particularly worried about danger to populations of the rare great crested newt.
As a novel change from owls falling victim to humans (see above), humans fell victim to an owl last week. Passers-by on a council estate at Kimberworth in South Yorkshire were left battered and bleeding by a dive-bombing tawny owl. One man thought he had been mugged when he was hit from behind and left pouring with blood. After six days the owl was captured by Paul Kettleborough, a falconer. He said: "I've never known an owl act like this before ... I went up with my fishing net and was hit once on the head before it came for my face ... The owl has been hand-reared by someone who knows very little about birds of prey. They've probably got fed up with the noise and set it free."