The RSPCA has launched an appeal for information after a duck was shot dead in Chester in ‘a deliberate act of cruelty’

Maggie the magpie duck was found injured at the side of the canal by Telford’s Warehouse on Sunday, June 3 and, after being taken to the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre, an x-ray showed an air rifle pellet lodged in her neck.

Her injury was so severe that she was put to sleep to prevent further suffering.

Donna Boden, a member of the public who has fed the duck for the last five years, has been left devastated at the callous attack.

She said: “I called her Maggie and she was the only magpie duck who lived in that part of the canal. Everyone knows Maggie because she looked different to the other ducks. Maggie knew me and she always came to me when I went down to the canal.

“I knew something was wrong when I went to the canal to feed her, but her wings were splayed out and her face was hidden in some undergrowth. She was off her food - I knew I had to get help for her.”

Donna, who managed to catch Maggie and take her to Stapeley Grange, explained: “I couldn’t leave her there to suffer.”

In previous years there were about 30 ducks living in that part of the canal basin but Donna said they have ‘started disappearing’.

“There used to be many of them, I know because they used to wait for me at the same time each day and all run across the car park towards me, so you got to recognise certain little couples and their set spots along the canal bank.

"I've never seen the canal so bare"

“Now there are just three males and a female left. Everyone I speak to says they’ve never seen it so bare and say that something is going on.”

Lee Stewart, manager at Stapeley Grange, added: “People need to remember the devastating consequences that shooting at animals with air guns can have.

“It is very distressing to think that people take pleasure in causing harm to these beautiful and defenseless birds. These are deliberate acts of cruelty and we would appeal to people’s consciences not to commit these offences.

“We would also like to remind people that under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is illegal to take, injure or kill wild birds or interfere with their nest or eggs, unless under licence. The maximum penalty, if found guilty, is six months in prison and a £5,000 fine.”

Anyone who has any information should contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or Cheshire Police on 101.