Pondkeepers warned after attack on fish at Waltham garden centre
POND keepers are being urged to stay vigilant after a local garden centre lost a dozen koi carp in a savage attack by mystery animals.
Tom Rutherford, owner of Millstone Garden Centre in Waltham, has erected an electric fence around his pond in the wake of last week's attack.
He and his wife Jo were shocked when they discovered the gruesome remains of the fish, valued at between £50 and £100 each, shortly after arriving for work.
Mr Rutherford said: "We were very shocked. We have never seen this type of destruction in the 30 years we have been here. There were lots of fins and scales everywhere.
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"There was one fish flapping at the side of the pond. Jo put it back in the pond and it swam away, so the attack must have happened just before." Mr Rutherford is not sure what type of animal was responsible for the devastation, but he suspects it was otters.
"We think we've got a good idea. We think it was otters – maybe not an adult otter, but possibly one or two cub otters.
"Fish is their staple diet, but I don't think otters are particularly common in this area. If there is anybody out there who knows about the otter population we would be very interested to find out.
"We've always had the perennial herons and occasionally wild ducks taking a few fish but nothing on this scale.
"Some of the fish were totally eaten and others had only been half eaten. A heron wouldn't do that, and neither would a cat."
Mr Rutherford has put down two cage traps with the remains of some of the dead fish in a bid to lure the culprits back – so far, without success.
"If we ever catch anything we will take it far away and release it into the countryside somewhere."
Mr Rutherford believes the 18-inch high electric fence, which was installed on the day of the attack, will be a worthwhile investment. The pond it surrounds is home to between 150 and 200 koi carp and other species of fish.
He added: "Pond keepers have got to be very vigilant. My advice is to keep a sharp eye out for evidence of animals visiting overnight and particularly early in the morning. They do seem to prefer early mornings to take their feed."