A swan that was shot in the head with an air gun has been nursed back to health and returned to his mate by the RSPCA.
A member of the public contacted the RSPCA after they spotted the poorly adult mute swan on Wrafton pond in Braunton, North Devon on 25 February.
Once he had been caught and checked over inspectors found he had an air rifle pellet lodged in his bill.
The swan was then taken to RSPCA West Hatch in Taunton, Somerset, to be treated and then returned to the pond the following day.
Deputy chief inspector Anthony Frow said: “This poor swan had an air rifle pellet embedded on the fleshy lump at the base of his upper mandible.
“We have been told that this swan is one half of a mating pair and has been for many years and they have reared numerous cygnets together so it is lovely to be able to reunite them just in time for breeding season.
“The swan was taken to RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton where the pellet was removed. Luckily no ill effects were caused by the pellet, however this could have been a different story seeing how close this pellet was to the swan’s head.
“I took the swan back the next day, where he was reunited with his mate.
“It was a callous attack and there is no excuse for this kind of behaviour.
“We would like to remind people that intentionally killing or injuring an animal is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and a £5,000 fine if found guilty.
“We are keen to speak to anyone who may have information relating to this matter as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact the RSPCA inspector line on 0300 123 8018.
(from a press release)