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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Police hunt for sick yobs who shot dead family of eight swans they used for live target practice

By Daily Mail Reporter

Cruelty: The adult swans and their adorable six cygnets, pictured two days before their death, were shot dead in the neck and chest

Police are hunting a 'sick' gunman who shot dead a family of eight swans in a horrific attack at a lakeside beauty spot.

The family of two adult swans and six two-week-old cygnets were shot in the chest and neck by a yob who picked the birds off with an air rifle.

They were found floating in a lake at the picturesque Ford Green Nature Reserve in Smallthorne, Staffs.

Police and RSPCA were called and were forced to call in the fire service to remove the swans from the lake, as horrified onlookers watched in tears.

A reward of £350 has now been put up for anyone who can help find the killer of the swans, who were discovered with air rifle pellets in their bodies.

They were taken to an RSPCA centre where X-rays revealed numerous air rifle pellets had been blasted in the necks and chests of the swans.

RSPCA Inspector John Groarke attended the scene and said he was horrified at the 'appalling' attacks.

He said: 'We are horrified that anyone could use an air gun and shoot an entire family of swans.

'It's absolutely appalling to think someone considers this acceptable behaviour and we're appealing for anyone who knows who may be responsible to contact us.'

Campaigners are now demanding security measures to be improved at the site.

Paul Reed, chairman of Smallthorne Residents' Association said the killings were 'atrocious' and branded the criminals 'sick'.

He wants CCTV installed on the site and is offering a reward of £250 on behalf of the residents' association to anyone with information leading to the capture of the criminals.

Sick: An x-ray shows a pellet found inside the body of a swan gunned down by a yob who police have yet to find

Shocking: Another x-ray shows two more air rifle pellets lodged in the body of a swan

He said: 'The reserve has been blighted by vandalism recently with arsonists setting fire to a walkway in March.

'We need security stepped up in the area. This particular attack is atrocious and it just highlights the issue of anti-social behaviour in the area.

Pat Simpkin, 55, who lives nearby revealed it had been a long time since cygnets had graced the attraction.

He said: 'It's been two or three years since there's been a family of cygnets around.

'There has to be CCTV installed otherwise we don't know what might happen next. If these people can get in and shoot swans they will do anything.'

Atrocious: The swan family were taken out by a sniper at the picturesque Ford Green nature Reserve in Staffordshire

Another animal lover, who did not want to be named, last night offered a further £100 reward for information about their deaths.

They said: 'I'm hoping someone will come forward with information.
'When I heard about the shootings and went to the lake people were crowded around and some were even crying.'

A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: 'We received a call on Saturday reporting an incident at a nature reserve on Ford Green Road.

'A patrol attended and the RSPCA was called. The swans were retrieved and then taken to an RSPCA centre to establish the cause of death.'



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