Heron dies after being shot six times with air gun in Norwich

A grey heron in flight

The heron was shot while flying with six air rifle pellets - Credit: Archant

A heron had to be put to sleep after being shot six times with an air gun.

The bird was found on Cangate Road, Norwich, and was collected by RSPCA inspector Dean Astilberry on April 3.

The heron had to be put to sleep after being shot six times with an air gun in Norwich

The heron had to be put to sleep after being shot six times with an air gun in Norwich - Credit: East Winch Wildlife Centre

Found staggering, covered in blood and with a fractured wing, the heron was then x-rayed by the veterinary team at East Winch wildlife centre.

It revealed six air rifle pellets inside the bird's body, alongside a spiral fracture on its right humerus, a fractured left radius and ulna and lots of bruising to the skin around them.

The heron found in Hatfield with airgun pellets inside its body

The heron found in Hatfield with airgun pellets inside its body - Credit: RSPCA

The pellets are believed to be .22 target pellets.

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Manager at East Winch Alison Charles said the decision had to be taken to "put the bird to sleep" to prevent any further suffering.

She said: "Sadly, shot birds is something we see far too often in our centre - however we were all really shocked to see this poor bird had six pellets in their body as normally we would only see one or two.

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"It's so upsetting to think that someone has deliberately targeted an innocent wild animal.”

The pellets found inside the heron shot in Norwich

The pellets found inside the heron shot in Norwich - Credit: RSPCA

Mr Astilberry, who recovered the bird, said: "The person who found the injured heron said they'd only seen it a couple of days before flying above them - so it's incredibly sad to think this poor majestic bird was then shot.

"It was in a terrible state."

And this heron, unfortunately, isn't the only one.

Another was collected from a golf course in Hatfield on April 4 after reports the bird looked thin and was not flying off.

When that heron was x-rayed at East Winch, it was found to have a fractured coracoid which had been caused by an air gun.

This heron, said Ms Charles, also had to be put to sleep to put them out of their misery.

According to the RSPCA, tighter controls on air weapons are imminently needed to help relieve the problem.

A spokesperson said: "We need better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, and requirements that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop."

It is asking anyone with information about either incident to contact either the police or their confidential appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

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