Our Planet
The silvery wash of the moon illuminates the invaders in our garden
Marine conservation is about proper management not numbers
Lion killed California intern with one swipe of its paw, coroner reveals
Deer cull would threaten thousands of jobs, say furious gamekeepers
We must kill Bambi: why culling deer is a no-brainer
Five shark species win protection against finning trade
Pangolins under threat as black market trade grows
Should we learn to love eating insects?
Rare Sumatran tiger kills farmer in Indonesia
Where screeching, scarlet macaws enjoy raucous celebrity status
Summer's early birds risk their return from wintering grounds
Mexican monarch butterfly numbers at record low, scientists say
Military three-step as birds drill for food through the late winter snow
Beachcombers to hunt out 'mermaid's purses' to help protect sharks
French troops return to the heart of D-day operations
A landscape bathed in cold brilliance
Birdwatch: Pied-billed grebe
National Wildlife Crime Unit left in funding doubt
86 elephants killed in Chad poaching massacre
Polar bear hunting and migration 'hit by warming climate'
Cloning extinct animals: to hell with frogs!
Spring is in the air and Zoroastrians and hares and pagans. And me
When the icy wind drops, the first hint of warmth can be felt in the sun
Don't let good zoos go extinct
  Week-old baby died after being bitten by jack russell, inquest hears
A week-old baby boy died of head injuries after being attacked by a normally placid pet dog as he slept in his cot, an inquest has heard.

Telford coroner's court was told the family of Harry Harper, who suffered a fractured skull, had an unblemished record of caring for and controlling dogs over many years prior to the tragic accident last November.

Harry was pronounced dead in hospital about 90 minutes after being bitten by his family's seven-year-old jack russell.

The infant was taken to Telford's Princess Royal hospital by ambulance on 20 November after being attacked in the living room of his mother's family home in the Ketley area of the town.

Members of Harry's family, including his mother, Mikayla Bell, 19, and his grandmother, Teresa, did not give evidence in person to the inquest.

But their statements and those of a paramedic who attended the scene were read to the court by a coroner's officer.

In her statement, Harry's mother, who works as a sales assistant, described jack russell PJ and the family's German shepherd cross as "mild-mannered" pets.

Bell said: "There have never been any issues with the dogs and young children they are never aggressive towards people or other dogs.

"As a family, we were all very mindful of the dogs."

On the morning of 20 November, Bell said she was woken by an alarm at 6.30am and later heard her mother screaming and shouting.

"I immediately ran downstairs and saw mum holding Harry over the sink," she said. "Mum was repeatedly saying: 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry' and I heard mum say: 'He's been bitten.'

"I think at some point mum said it was PJ that had bitten him."

In her statement, the baby's mother continued: "I feel angry about what happened but I don't blame anyone I am shocked to know it was PJ because he wasn't vicious at all.

"I understand that no one is to blame and what happened was a really tragic accident."

Detective Inspector Phil Shakesheff, of West Mercia police, told the inquest that a criminal inquiry had found no evidence that either of the family's dogs had previously been dangerous or out of control.

The senior officer said: "The family have an unblemished history of caring for and controlling many dogs over a period of many years. On this occasion this jack russell has not followed [Harry's grandmother] back into the kitchen for a gate to be closed and remained in the sitting room to attack the baby.

"There is no evidence to suggest that the death of Harry is anything other than a tragic incident that can't be ruled out from occurring in any other dog-owning household where children are present."

In her statement to the coroner, Teresa Bell said she saw PJ, who was later put down, sitting near her injured grandson in his carrycot, which had been placed on the living room table.

Describing her dogs as placid and not prone to snarling, she added: "They had certainly not bitten anyone before. I know it was a tragic accident, but I will always wonder if I could have done something differently that morning."

Since 2007, the inquest heard, dogs have killed eight people around the country, including six children.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Telford's assistant deputy coroner, Andrew Barkley, urged dog-owners to recognise the dangers posed to children by their pets.

Praising Harry's family for their dignity and courage in attending the inquest, Barkley said: "There is no evidence to suggest that the dog responsible for the attack sustained by Harry had in the past been dangerous or dangerously out of control."

The coroner added: "One can only hope that if anything positive can come out of what has been a deeply distressing case, it's that the public recognise the dangers associated with babies and small children being around dogs."

In a statement read out on their behalf by Shakesheff following the inquest, Harry's family appealed for the media to respect their privacy and thanked wellwishers for sending messages of sympathy.

The family statement read: "As a family, we remain absolutely devastated by Harry's death.

"Although he was only with us for eight days, he had brought enormous happiness to us all and his loss is a tragedy that we will carry with us forever.

"We will treasure every single moment we enjoyed of him and we will never forget the joy he gave us when he arrived."
Hundreds of wild boars face cull in Forest of Dean
Grand National protesters accuse Channel 4 of exploiting deaths of horses
Kenya's Maasai keep lions at bay with solar power and ingenuity
Week-old baby died after being bitten by jack russell, inquest hears
Avian flu: Chinese pigeon fanciers vaccinate tens of thousands of birds
Art Deco among the ducks
The silent socialisers of the insect world
Firefighters tackle blaze at Scottish zoo
Scottish zoo fire leaves animals and reptiles dead
Upon the Yare three grebe pairs were all in display
Chinese vessel on Philippine coral reef caught with illegal pangolin meat
Stricken seabirds wash up along south coast of England
Circuses to be banned from using wild animals
Demand for lion bones offers South African breeders a lucrative return
Edinburgh zoo pandas 'ready to mate'
Humans that harm animals should be held accountable
Today the brimstones are out, careering up and down the rides
English farmers to be reimbursed for sheep killed in snowstorms
Rhino heads seized in gang raid on Ireland's national museum
On this bright morning, the redwing are looking particularly smart
The Chinese sanctuary with pandas at play
Australia's koala crisis
Edinburgh's female panda artificially inseminated
Scientists attack government climbdown on marine protection
French fisherman survives crocodile attack in Australia
Oxford college under attack over plans to display live shark at ball
Wood anemones bewitched by the wind
Shark's off at Oxford black-tie ball
Appetite for caviar could see paddlefish suffer sturgeon's fate
One day last week something other than water came out of the fountain
China loves pork too much
New to Nature No 100: Eleodes wheeleri
Bollywood actors charged in poaching case
Salisbury travel tips: great bustard birdwatching on the plain
Farewell to Nick Boing, Wales's very own superstar sheep
South African minister backs legalisation of rhino horn trade
Cold spring kills thousands of newborn lambs
Rolling snowballs the size of tumbledriers down the hill
Ranger corruption 'impeding global fight against poaching'
The grey seal's bewhiskered face bore an expression of pure contentment
A new, ethical way to buy fish from the fisherman
Dangerous dogs policy in the wake of the terrible death of Jade Anderson
Red squirrels are intensely curious creatures, and extraordinarily pretty
Freezing weather brings fresh perils for British wildlife
Paparazzi reception for an elusive star of the natural world the otter
Eating fish: it's complicated
Do you think the Grand National is cruel?
Cod and chips could be a load of pollock
Farmers call for help over mounting sheep deaths
Chinese fishing fleet in African waters reports 9% of catch to UN
South African game reserve poisons rhino's horns to prevent poaching
Cats leave their mark on centuries of books
Visit Statistics