Swan lovers have expressed their shock after two birds were shot in the face just yards away from Shepperton’s Swan Sanctuary.
The pair, a male and female who are well known in Shepperton, had just been fed and were on the River Ash at Watersplash Road on January 12 when a neighbour noticed the two swans were covered in blood and called for help at 2.50pm.
“I am just so stunned that somebody would do this. It must be people with below average intelligence who think it is a good idea to shoot a swan between the eyes."
Founder of the Swan Sanctuary Dot Beeson said: “I am just so stunned that somebody would do this. It must be people with below average intelligence who think it is a good idea to shoot a swan between the eyes. I just hope somebody who knows who these despicable individuals are will come forward and give the police their names.”
It is believed the two birds were shot between 2.30pm and 2.50pm by an air rifle. One bird was shot twice in the face and neck and the other three times in the face.
The sanctuary, which has been looking after birds for 29 years, has offered up a £500 reward for information on the shooters which leads to a conviction.
Ms Beeson said: “What I feel for these people is absolute contempt. Somebody had the intention of killing these beautiful creatures. It is lucky they were brought to us so quickly after it happened but I just hope someone will give the police any information which will see these people in court, paying for their crime.”
Both birds are recovering in the sanctuary and expected to recover but Ms Beeson said they will never be the same.
She said: “These two birds will never be able to return to the river or be free. They are both shell shocked and extremely edgy. They will have return to protected land and it is such a shame.”
Swans are property of the Crown, so deliberate acts of cruelty can be an offence under Criminal Damage Act, as well as an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Shepperton councillor Robin Sider said: “I am speechless as to what I think of those who have shot these swans. I only hope that the reward offered by Dot brings forth the culprits.”
Police are appealing for witnesses to the shooting to contact them on 0845 125 2222.