ANIMAL lovers have condemned thugs who shot down a swan with an air rifle.
The male bird was flying over Canoe Lake in Southsea, when it was hit with five pellets.
It crashed into the water and a passer-by called for help after it saw other swans attacking it.
The swan had to be put down by staff at Stubbington Ark Animal Shelter, Fareham, following the incident at 3pm on Monday.
The bird was left paralysed by its gun wounds and part of its beak also broke when it landed.
X-rays revealed the swan was shot across its body and one of its legs.
The culprit hasn’t been found and the RSPCA hasn’t informed police because they don’t think there were any witnesses and proof of where it happened.
Vanessa Eden, of Stubbington Ark Animal Shelter, part of The RSPCA, said: ‘Any cruelty to an animal is a no-go thing.
‘Who knows who did it. It’s an extremely callous act. As the lake is overlooked by houses and high rise flats it is thought unlikely that someone would shoot a swan on the lake in public view.
‘The swan’s beak was partially broken off, indicating a crash landing which points to the swan flying in from somewhere else.
‘Also the resident swans (of Canoe Lake) were attacking the swan, which they do not usually do if from their own colony.’
Though the animal shelter has been made aware of swan shootings before, this was the first one reported to it this year.
Vanessa said attacks on swans were more common when people visit parks and ponds more regularly in the spring and summer months.
‘There’s nothing that can be done to stop this happening because the parks are open to everyone,’ she said.
‘Anybody can go out with an air rifle now and shoot up in the air anywhere.’
Councillor Eleanor Scott, cabinet member for environment and community safety, said: ‘These things are illegal.
‘You have got to question the mentality of the awful people that do these things. Why do they have air rifles? There are laws about animal cruelty. I would hope
‘The RSPCA and police are looking very seriously into attacks.
‘Anyone that can be cruel and stupid enough to shoot a swan is a danger to children and people in general.
‘It’s unacceptable. It may be legal to own certain weapons but there are laws about using them out and about.’