VANDALS have caused hundreds of pounds’ worth of damage to a popular nature reserve.
Wildlife bosses were left dismayed after finding an interpretation panel at the entrance to East Cramlington Pond reserve had been pulled down.
Northumberland Wildlife Trust now faces having to pick up a bill for almost £2,000 to replace the panel.
Geoff Dobbins, the trust’s estate office for the pond, said the information panel had only been in place for a matter of months, having been put up at the end of last year.
“We get the occasional drinks can left lying around the reserve and litter left at the entrance, but we haven’t come across any issues like this before,” he told the News Post Leader.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into the site over the last couple of years.
“We’ve improved the habitat for wildlife, laid a new boardwalk to improve the visitors’ experience and installed the interpretation panel, which has now been destroyed.
“The reserve is in a secluded spot, so not many people notice it, but since we’ve been improving it, it has become more popular.
“We have a number of local people who keep an eye on the site.
“They are our reserve wardens and send us reports if there has been any damage.”
Geoff said the trust was looking to replace the panel but doing so was likely to take a while as it had to go through an insurance company.
It would look at measures to protect future panels from vandal damage, he added.
Officials at the trust are urging anyone who saw anything suspicious at the 1.2-hectare reserve on the night the panel was attacked – Friday, May 25 – to call the police.
The ponds at the East Cramlington site are a haven for toads, dragonflies and birdlife including moorhens.
The attack on the panel comes just weeks after a similar information display was damaged at Close House nature reserve near Wylam in the Tyne Valley, leaving the trust facing a £1,500 bill, and a £15,000 wooden hide was burnt down at Ellington nature reserve.