Rabbit rescue lands Wotton-under-Edge teens in trouble

Rabbit rescue lands Wotton teens in trouble

The rabbits trapped in cages at Katherine Lady Berkeley's School

Marcus Jotcham, 14, with his mother Tracey

First published in News
Last updated
Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , senior reporter covering Dursley, Cam, Wotton-under-Edge, Sharpness, Slimbridge, Berkeley, Coaley, Uley, North Nibley, Stinchcombe and Cambridge

TEENAGERS from Wotton-under-Edge found themselves in trouble with the police when they went to the rescue of trapped rabbits in the grounds of their school.

The three youngsters had gone to Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School to skate during the Easter holidays and were shocked to find two rabbits trapped in cages.

The cages were out in the sun and the rabbits had no water.

Marcus Jotcham, 14, said he and two friends initially dragged the cages to the shade but then decided to set the animals free and crush the traps so they could not be used again.

The school reported the damage to the police and two of the boys have since been cautioned but Marcus’ mother Tracey Jotcham, 52, is unhappy with the school’s reaction and for adopting the trapping practice in the first place.

“The boys were so disgusted that they had been left there they decided to crush the cages and needless to say the police have been brought in,” she told the Gazette.

“What a waste of police money. They were the school’s cages so could have been dealt with in-house.”

The mother-of-three from The Chipping in Wotton added the rabbits should not have been caged.

“We teach our kids to be kind to animals and then the school does this. It’s disgusting,” she said.

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“How could they have been so cruel?”

Headteacher Andrew Harris said rabbits had been making holes in the school’s hockey and rugby pitches, causing a danger to students, and were destroying the horticultural students’ plants. One pitch had recently been refurbished at a cost of more than £100,000.

He said the traps were checked every few hours.

“I am really sorry if we have distressed anyone in our attempts to control the population but if we do not the school can’t conduct its business and as difficult as it may be, we can’t just allow the population to expand out of control,” Mr Harris said.

He added that there was very clear guidance on trapping rabbits and a method to deal with them humanely, recommended by Natural England.

“The last thing we want is to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal,” he stressed.

Mr Harris went on to say that because the incident had taken place outside school term and involved damage to property, the school had referred the matter to police but no action was being taken against the students at the school.

Landowners have a legal obligation to keep rabbit populations on their land under control, with Natural England recommending fences or humane trapping.

The body recommends that captured rabbits should be killed by two sharp blows to the back of the head using a heavy stick, followed by asphyxiation to ensure the animal is dead.

A Gloucestershire police spokesman said the cages had been valued at around £150.

“Three teenagers have been spoken to in relation to the criminal damage,” he said.

“It is hoped two will be dealt with by way of restorative justice while action to be taken against the third teenager is still pending.”

Comments (8)

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5:46pm Sat 24 May 14

savetheanimals says...

A danger to the students? rabbit holes? wow.. is that a new thing? I am sure we didn't have to have rabbits trapped and carelessly killed because of a game of hockey when I was at school.. no other school seem to be having such a problem.. I am so pleased that the school seems to think that teaching animal cruelty is so essential. Can we put the headmaster in the sun with no water or food and trap him please? I assume there is a petition going that we can sign to help these children, who thankfully were thinking of the rabbits.
A danger to the students? rabbit holes? wow.. is that a new thing? I am sure we didn't have to have rabbits trapped and carelessly killed because of a game of hockey when I was at school.. no other school seem to be having such a problem.. I am so pleased that the school seems to think that teaching animal cruelty is so essential. Can we put the headmaster in the sun with no water or food and trap him please? I assume there is a petition going that we can sign to help these children, who thankfully were thinking of the rabbits. savetheanimals
  • Score: 91

10:08pm Sun 25 May 14

Smiley85 says...

Thought klb set a high standard to pupils??? Says it all really!!
If it was the kids capturing the rabbits the school would take it very serious!
Appalling!
Well done to the boys who freed the rabbits
Thought klb set a high standard to pupils??? Says it all really!! If it was the kids capturing the rabbits the school would take it very serious! Appalling! Well done to the boys who freed the rabbits Smiley85
  • Score: 76

3:33pm Tue 27 May 14

twotonethomas says...

Police time would be better spent catching those responsible for the mindless car vandalism in Dursley, rather than harassing a trio of compassionate teens.
Police time would be better spent catching those responsible for the mindless car vandalism in Dursley, rather than harassing a trio of compassionate teens. twotonethomas
  • Score: 59

4:08pm Tue 27 May 14

hopecolby says...

I was holidaying in the area and happened by chance to see this article. It caught my eye because it seems Wooten-under-Edge is lucky enough to have some remarkable boys. When many teens would have been far more selfishly occupied, these boys were caring enough to pause and consider the fate of these helpless animals. Showing great morality they concluded it was cruel to abandon these creatures to a slow death in the sun and, courageously, chose to act on what they knew to be right. I feel proud of them and I don't even know them. Society needs more people prepared to make a stand and lead the way. Perhaps they needn't have destroyed the cages, but it was a powerful message to the school about how wrongly they'd acted, and the school should have been wise and humble enough to listen. It is important for parents and authority figures (teachers and the police) to define boundaries for young people but equally so, they must be honest enough to admit when they get it wrong. It is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strenght and leadership. Let none of us ever be afraid to admit a mistake, let all of us note that these boys have taught a sound lesson.
I was holidaying in the area and happened by chance to see this article. It caught my eye because it seems Wooten-under-Edge is lucky enough to have some remarkable boys. When many teens would have been far more selfishly occupied, these boys were caring enough to pause and consider the fate of these helpless animals. Showing great morality they concluded it was cruel to abandon these creatures to a slow death in the sun and, courageously, chose to act on what they knew to be right. I feel proud of them and I don't even know them. Society needs more people prepared to make a stand and lead the way. Perhaps they needn't have destroyed the cages, but it was a powerful message to the school about how wrongly they'd acted, and the school should have been wise and humble enough to listen. It is important for parents and authority figures (teachers and the police) to define boundaries for young people but equally so, they must be honest enough to admit when they get it wrong. It is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strenght and leadership. Let none of us ever be afraid to admit a mistake, let all of us note that these boys have taught a sound lesson. hopecolby
  • Score: 68

7:07pm Tue 27 May 14

Marilena G says...

RESPECT FOR THOSE BOYS! RESPECT FOR THEIR AMAZING PARENTS WHO TAUGHT THEM RIGHT AND WRONG! THANK YOU!
RESPECT FOR THOSE BOYS! RESPECT FOR THEIR AMAZING PARENTS WHO TAUGHT THEM RIGHT AND WRONG! THANK YOU! Marilena G
  • Score: 38

10:49pm Tue 27 May 14

cardew ellis says...

If the school paid £150 each for those traps, somebody saw them coming!!!
If the school paid £150 each for those traps, somebody saw them coming!!! cardew ellis
  • Score: 10

8:31am Wed 28 May 14

Mags1969 says...

These boys are heroes.They have shown true compassion for these rabbits.I wish there were more like them.
These boys are heroes.They have shown true compassion for these rabbits.I wish there were more like them. Mags1969
  • Score: 17

6:03pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Philip14 says...

Since when did luring rabbits into sun-baked cages and killing them by "two sharp blows to the back of the head, followed by asphyxiation" constitute a "method to deal with them humanely". A rabbit-proof fence around the hockey and rugby pitches (and precious plants) is how to deal with the rabbits humanely. Top marks to the kind-hearted kids for their compassionate action. And to the mother for defending her son with such wise words.
Since when did luring rabbits into sun-baked cages and killing them by "two sharp blows to the back of the head, followed by asphyxiation" constitute a "method to deal with them humanely". A rabbit-proof fence around the hockey and rugby pitches (and precious plants) is how to deal with the rabbits humanely. Top marks to the kind-hearted kids for their compassionate action. And to the mother for defending her son with such wise words. Philip14
  • Score: 8

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