Monday, December 20, 2010

Distraught children find dead deer entombed in icy lake on 'magical' trip to see Father Christmas at country park


Sad sight: A stag's body could be seen by visitors at Whitworth Hall Country Park in County Durham after it fell through ice

Children who visited a country park in the hope of seeing Father Christmas' reindeer were left horrified when they saw several animals that had fallen through thin ice and drowned.

Visitors to Whitworth Hall Country Park, in County Durham, were greeted by the gruesome sight after at least eight deer and stags died during the big freeze.

Hoof marks could still be seen on the ice leading to where the deer broke through into the freezing lake.

One woman, who asked not to be named, was visiting Santa's grotto with her eight-year-old son in the grounds of a hotel in the park.

She said: 'My son was distressed and we did not feel comfortable. It was an awful sight and nothing seemed to have been done about it.

Frozen: The animals died after mistaking the frozen lake for snow-covered land, to the horror of visitors

Park staff were unavailable for comment, but earlier this month manager Alan Lax described how the snow and freezing conditions had turned the lake into a death trap for the deer.

'We have put hay bales and food down to pull them away from the lake, but because the park is white and the lake it white they don't see the difference and walk across.'

He said it would be impossible to fence off the lake and attempts to break up the ice were futile as the lake quickly re-froze.

Animal expert Phil Gates said: 'This kind of tragedy does happen with wild animals.
'Sometimes, when lakes freeze, the water level beneath the ice drops down, making the ice on top even more fragile.

'Lighter animals such as rabbits and foxes can get across, but anything as heavy as a deer will go through.'

source: dailymail

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