Eight swans were found slaughtered by a gunman yesterday in an attack which an animal charity blasted as ”one of the worst” incidents of cruelty it has ever encountered.
Wildlife rescue carers were alerted to the carnage on a rhine, in Blackford, Somerset, after shocked passers-by spotted the bodies of the birds floating in the water.
Its animal welfare team, assisted by a local rescue boat, found three dead birds immediately upon arrival at the scene near Blackford.
Further investigation saw them discover another five slaughtered swans – all of which had been shot in the head by airgun pellets.
One of the birds had been shot three times.
The rescue team, from Secret World Wildlife Rescue Centre, also found a survivor – which has been treated and is now recovering at the charity’s base in East Huntspill, Somerset.
Charity founder Pauline Kidner said: ”Secret World attended one of its worst incidents yesterday. It is hard to believe why anyone would do such a callous thing.
”The only thing that we had hoped was that death would have been fairly instantaneous as they all appeared to have been killed by someone who was quite a good marksman but the x-rays told us otherwise.
”A lot of swans foraging on crops can cause a lot of damage, but there is no excuse for such cruelty.
”What makes matters worse is that some of the swans may well have been ones that we worked so hard to save from the ice over the Christmas period.”