Warning from RSPCA and Cheshire Police after swan shot dead on river in Winsford

X-rays confirmed the bird was killed with a shot in the head. Credit: RSPCA

The RSPCA is urging people to be on their guard against perpetrators of wildlife crime after a swan was shot on a river in Cheshire.

The adult female bird was spotted by members of the public on the River Weaver at Winsford on Monday 22 August.

She was taken to Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre near Nantwich and x-rays confirmed the swan had been shot in the head, apparently by an air rifle. 

X-rays showed the swan had been shot in the head. Credit: RSPCA

It is claimed that two men were spotted firing air rifles on the riverbank the day the swan’s body was discovered on the water.

Wildlife enthusiasts Tanya Pickering, her daughter Elois and Charlene Gibson highlighted the killing to RSPCA staff.

Tanya said: "We could see it was a gunshot wound. It is awful and there have been reports of a Canada goose being shot on the Weaver at Northwich as well in recent days."

Charlene said: "I know this swan was fit and well on the Sunday before and then to hear that she had been shot is terrible.

"It raises concerns about the safety of other swans in that area of the river if there are people like this roaming about using them as target practice."

The swan was spotted by members of the public on Sunday 21 August. Credit: RSPCA

RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre Manager Lee Stewart: "It is extremely sad when we have cases like this brought to us and sadly it is far too common a reason for admission. Why are innocent and defenceless animals shot like this?

"With an ever increasing human population it is inevitable that we will see greater conflict between man and wildlife, but shooting innocent animals for fun is just barbaric and unacceptable."

Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team is investigating the incident.

Julia Griffiths, chairman of Cheshire Neighbourhood Watch Association, said: "It saddens me that we continue to see swans, geese, ducks and birds in Cheshire being persecuted for simply existing.

"We have an excellent rural crime team, but it needs the support of the community to report crimes or provide intelligence."

Anyone with any information about the shooting can report it by ringing Cheshire Police on 101, quoting incident number IML 1348952.

For more information on what to do if you find an injured wild animal, visit the RSPCA website