Northern Ireland news

Appeal for return of buzzard sculpture stolen from Castlewellan Forest Park

The large buzzard sculpture in Castlewellan Forest Park that was stolen. Picture by Mal McCann

AN appeal has been launched for the return of a buzzard sculpture stolen from a play park in Co Down.

The wooden carving, positioned 12 feet high, was taken from an adventure play area at Castlewellan Forest Park.

Mournelive, which looks after the play park on behalf of Newry, Mourne and Down council, said "given the weight and position in which it was situated, we believe machinery must have been used to remove it".

"It seems that someone has taken advantage of the current circumstances we are living in and helped themselves to the sculpture when nobody has been around," said chief executive Martin Carey.

The buzzard is among several wooden animal carvings in the play area.

Mr Carey said they believe it may have been stolen last Thursday when restrictions related to parks were lifted by Stormont.

"The park itself, but not the play park or trails, were opened again last week following the change announced by Minister (Edwin) Poots," he said.

"There's a woodland theme in the play park and the buzzard would be the most prominent due to its position on a high pole, which is meant to mimic how a buzzard would fly and watch over the forest.

"It is 12 foot high, so we clearly feel there was a degree of calculation and planning in it's removal, it doesn't appear to have been a spur of the moment thing.

"When it was noticed it was gone, we fully expected it to be abandoned somewhere in the forest park, partly because it's very heavy.

"A good thorough search was carried out, but nothing."

Mr Carey appealed for the public's help.

"The fact that someone feels that something that delights children should be removed, to say it is disappointing is putting mildly," he said.

"If the people involved see the error of their ways, we would be delighted if it was returned to us.

"Equally if anyone happens to see it anywhere, it is very unique looking, we would welcome them to get in touch so I would ask people to keep an eye out."

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