A mute swan has died after being shot seven times with a pellet gun whilst looking after her eggs at a private fishing lake near Shrewsbury.
The swan had laid a number of eggs at the side of Acton Burnell fishing lake but concerned members of the public noticed last week she was not on her nest.
Earlier this week a fisherman noticed she was struggling and found a fishing hook in her left leg and, believing this was the problem, he managed to take it out and released the swan back onto the water.
But the following day the fisherman and the landowner noticed the swan was still struggling and realised something was more seriously wrong with her so they alerted the RSPCA.
Inspector Nayman Dunderdale was sent to the scene and took the poorly swan for emergency treatment but sadly she died on route.
An x-ray was taken and it revealed she had been shot seven times with a pellet gun in the wings, chest and rear. It is believed this is what caused her to leave her nest.
The swan’s mate is still at the lake but the eggs on the nest have been disturbed, with some seen in the water, so they will not hatch.
Nayman said: “It is disgusting to think that someone entered private land and deliberately took seven shots at this swan. There are pellets scattered over her body from her wings to her chest and rear.
“It seems like they enjoyed torturing this swan who was in the process of incubating her eggs.
“I believe the shooting took place last week and that is why she had left her nest. She must have suffered during this time.
“The eggs which were well established will not hatch now which is incredibly sad.
“I am now appealing for anyone with information as to who is responsible or anyone who saw anything suspicious to call the RSPCA appeals line on 0300 123 8018.”
All wild birds, including swans, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take them except under licence. The maximum penalty, if found guilty, is six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine.