Vandalism discovered July 17 at J.J. Collett Natural Area, which included structural damage and theft – with the perpetrators making off with a solar panel connected to a sturdy, four-by-four post. (Jack Surbey/Contributed to Black Press Media)

Vandalism discovered July 17 at J.J. Collett Natural Area, which included structural damage and theft – with the perpetrators making off with a solar panel connected to a sturdy, four-by-four post. (Jack Surbey/Contributed to Black Press Media)

Swallows killed after vandals target J.J. Collett Natural Area in Lacombe County

A central Alberta fan-favourite natural area was attacked

Multiple nesting swallows were killed in apparent vandalism to a birdhouse in J.J. Collett Natural Area in Lacombe County.

The vandalism was discovered July 17, which included structural damage and theft — with the perpetrators making off with a solar panel connected to a sturdy, four-by-four post.

“When we found the area to be vandalized, the post was surprisingly broken in half, the birdhouse was completely smashed and our audio equipment was taken,” J.J. Collett Natural Area Foundation president Jack Surbey said. “It’s one thing to steal the equipment but it’s another to cause damage to the area. They really went above and beyond.

A few other birds were also found missing and the likelihood of getting them back is very low and possibly even impossible until next spring, Surbey said.

“The attack hasn’t been made public yet but the police were called and the few people who do know what happened are very upset.”

Surbey believes the vandalism happened in the nighttime, meaning no one was around to see licence plates – the likeliest way of finding the culprits. Still, he’s hoping someone comes forward.

“If someone reads this in the paper and knows anything about the situation, might’ve saw anything that night or who did it, they can get in touch with me and go from there,” Surbey said.

Historically, the land belonged to the Canadian Pacific Railroad but was eventually purchased by Jack Collett in the early 1950s when it was turned into a ranch. After Collett died, the land was purchased in 1974 to be used for environmental education.

Today, the 18 km of well-maintained trails features large amount flowers, shrubs and aspen groves. The foundation up keeps a bird initiative that looks to protect purple martin and swallow birds.

Anyone with information can call Ponoka RCMP, or Surbey directly at 403-588-0597.

Conservation

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