The RSPCA is looking for the 'disgusting' culprits who shot a swan in the head at a Northwich pond.
Animal Collection Officer (ACO) Lauren Bradshaw discovered the callous attack when she went to the pond – off the River Weaver – on Tuesday (February 6 ) following reports a swan was injured.
She noticed the mute swan had a large swelling to the side of its face and a hole on the side of the head which looked like a gunshot wound.
She said: “We received a call regarding a swan covered in blood. When I arrived I saw the bird sat on the pathway and could see the blood from a distance so knew it was a serious injury."
ACO Bradshaw rushed the bird to RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre, in Nantwich, to be examined by a vet and an X-ray showed a pellet lodged in the side of the swan's head.
“The pellet had entered the left side of the bird’s head and gone straight through to the other side – it’s a miracle it missed the eye,” ACO Bradshaw added.
“Vets checked the bird further and found he had also been shot twice more – with a fresh wound in his left wing and an older injury to the right wing.
“It appears as though this poor bird has been shot deliberately and used as target practice. It’s disgusting that someone could do this to him and then leave him covered in blood and severely injured.
“Sadly, I don’t think this is an isolated incident and members of public at the pond said this was not the first time a bird had been shot on the river.”
Staff removed the pellets from the fresh wounds but left the older injury as it was nicely healed and didn’t appear to be causing the swan any pain.
The bird will stay at Stapeley Grange until he is fully recovered and strong enough to be released.
The RSPCA has launched an investigation and is calling for anyone with information about what happened and who may be responsible to get in touch by contacting 0300 123 8018 and leaving a message for ACO Bradshaw.
Swans are protected and it’s illegal to shoot or kill one. Anyone caught deliberately trying to injure a wild bird, or kill or take it without a licence, can face up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to £5,000 if found guilty under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
To report cruelty contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.