Cygnet dies after being shot in the head with air gun

X-ray of swan found on River Nar with air gun pellet in its head.

X-ray of swan found on River Nar with air gun pellet in its head. - Credit: RSPCA

A swan rescued from King’s Lynn after being shot in the head at close range had to be put down due its injuries. 

The young mute swan was reported by a concerned member of the public who had seen the bird staggering and collapsing every time she tried to stand, in an area near the River Nar in South Lynn.

RSPCA Inspector Jon Knight caught the bird on March 1 who was disorientated, weak and thin and had a wound on their head.

X-ray of swan found on River Nar with air gun pellet in its head that later had to be put down.

X-ray of swan found on River Nar with air gun pellet in its head that later had to be put down. - Credit: RSPCA

The cygnet was taken to the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre where a vet carried out an X-ray that revealed it had been shot, with the pellet still lodged in her skull.

As the injury was so severe, the bird had to be put to sleep to prevent her suffering further.

RSPCA Inspector Jon Knight.

RSPCA Inspector Jon Knight. - Credit: Steve Williams


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Mr Knight said: “It’s so sad to think that this poor cygnet had to suffer as a result of someone taking pot shots. 

“We want to highlight this awful incident so that people can keep an eye out for wildlife in the area, although we hope that this was an isolated incident.”

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Alison Charles, manager at East Winch Wildlife Centre, added: “Our vet examined the swan on arrival and she was very weak.

“When we X-rayed her we could clearly see the pellet. 

X-ray of swan found on River Nar with air gun pellet.

X-ray of swan found on River Nar with air gun pellet. - Credit: RSPCA

“We suspect it had been fired at close range and as the wound was quite fresh it is likely it happened over that weekend.

“It is just so upsetting to think that someone has deliberately targeted an innocent wild animal.”

The RSPCA receives almost 1,000 calls to investigate such cases every year.

The charity is calling for tighter controls on air weapons, along with better education on the law when anyone buys an air gun.

Mr Knight said: “Sadly this is the third swan we have brought to the centre in the last two weeks which has been shot. 

X-ray of swan found on River Nar with air gun pellet in its head that later had to be put down.

X-ray of swan found on River Nar with air gun pellet in its head that later had to be put down. - Credit: RSPCA

“The other two birds were rescued from Lincolnshire and while it is not believed any of these incidents are linked, it is extremely worrying that three birds have been shot at different locations in such a short time frame.

“I would ask anyone who has any information about the incidents to contact the RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line in confidence on 0300 1238018 or call the police.”

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