A SWAN suffered life-threatening injuries after being shot on a canal near Stratford at the weekend.
The bird – the male in a breeding pair – was left bloodied and severely injured in the horrific attack, believed to have been carried out by three youths with a catapult on the canal towpath between 1.30pm and 2.30pm on Sunday.
The creature suffered major trauma and was sedated. Cyril Bennis of Stratford Swan Rescue said he feared it would lose an eye, although there was a question mark over whether it would survive at all. It has been taken to Wychbold Swan Sanctuary and police have been informed.
Mr Bennis told the Herald the incident began in Wilmcote, where a group of three youths were spotted doing “target practice” with a catapult or similar device. They then made their way down the canal towpath towards Stratford, where a pair of breeding swans have built a nest.
After the attack, Mr Bennis was called to help and spent two hours rescuing the bird. He said: “You could see this male swan – a beautiful swan, very mature – was traumatised. The problem we had was it wouldn’t come to us. That’s why it took so long. It couldn’t see properly because whatever struck it struck the top of its left eye. You could see quite clearly the force of what had hit the swan.
“People were absolutely magnificent, although everybody was horrified. It was a vicious attack. I have never seen anything like it in the years I have been on the river. It was distressing to see the poor animal defenceless like that.
“It’s so sad and so depressing to see anything like this, especially with an animal that’s so grand and gives so much pleasure to people.”
The attack is the second in six months – the other was nearer Stratford and the swan in that incident also lost an eye.
Reaction online was swift and unanimous, with comments branding the perpetrators “vile”, “disgusting” and “monstrous”.
A neighbouring swan rescue group in Hereford and Worcester warned it was a criminal offence to:
– Injure/kill a swan;
– Remove swans’ eggs from the nest;
– Destroy a swan’s nest;
– Go fishing near a swan’s nest; and
– Allow a dog off the lead near a swan’s nest or/and their cygnets.