A CROSSBOW-wielding thug is being hunted by the RSPCA after a “despicable” assault which saw a swan shot through the neck.
Specialist water rescue firefighters and an inspector from the charity were called to the River Lyne, in Lynemouth, Northumberland, and found the bird with a bolt right through it.
The pen is now recovering at a local vets, who said she is lucky not to have suffered more serious injuries.
Now wildlife protection officers are keen to trace the sick perpetrator behind the attack, which they believe may have been carried out “for entertainment”.
Inspector Trevor Walker was among the first on the scene to rescue the swan after the RSPCA received a call from a concerned passer-by. But as he was unable to reach her out on the water, he called in Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service’s swift water team.
“The officers from Green Watch at Pegswood fire station came out and were utterly brilliant,” said Insp Walker.
“Their swift water officers herded her on to dry land where I caught her and took her to Robson & Prescott veterinary centre.
“Staff at the vets have also been fantastic. They have managed to get the bolt out and this swan has a great chance of recovery as a result.”
Contrary to popular belief it is not treason to kill a wild swan, and not all swans in Britain belong to the Queen. However, killing a wild bird using illegal means carries a penalty of up to£1,000.
And fines of up to £5,000 can be levied for slaughtering a single schedule one species, such as Bewick’s or whooper swans.
Sam Prescott of Robson & Prescott veterinary centre said the bolt luckily missed the swan’s oesophagus, windpipe and spine. “It passed through the soft tissue only,” he said. “She remains on a drip at the veterinary centre and it’s hoped she will be well enough to be released back into the wild next week.”
However, as the swan and her mate – which may be her only partner – do not have any cygnets and been separated since Monday, it is not known if he will still be on the river when she returns.
“This was an absolutely despicable act which has caused this swan a great deal of suffering,” said inspector Walker.
“And I can only presume the motivation behind this deliberate attack was entertainment.
“I hope anyone with any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, will get in touch.”
Anyone with information should call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 and ask to leave a message for inspector Walker.