Photos: Swan fights for life at East Winch after being shot twice with a crossbow

08:45 09 May 2014

RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs with the shot swan at Upwell.

RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs with the shot swan at Upwell.


A swan is in intensive care after being shot twice with a crossbow - a fortnight after a goose was similarly attacked down the road.

X rays show damage to swan at Upwell.X rays show damage to swan at Upwell.

Police and RSPCA officials are hunting a crossbow-wielding criminal for a “senseless and violent” shooting of a swan.

Two bolts were fired into the swan at Upwell, near Wisbech in an attack using the same or a similar weapon used on a goose in nearby Elm.

“It’s a bit of a coincidence,” said an RSPCA spokesman. “It makes us think there might be a link.”

The injured swan was spotted on the River Nene by people enjoying a boat trip. It underwent emergency surgery at the RSPCA’s East Winch wildlife centre, and staff are hoping it will recover. Last night it remained in intensive care.

Members of the public in boats on the water at March riverside saw the swan trying to swim with a bolt coming from its shoulder. RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs rescued it with the help of a member of the public, and rushed it to East Winch.

An examination showed the bolt in the swan’s shoulder, and a second deeply embedded in the swan’s flank.

The swan was found two miles from where the goose was shot with a crossbow at Elm on April 23.

Mr Stubbs urged anyone with any information to contact the RSPCA. He said: “I hadn’t even seen the second bolt until the swan was examined by vets at the hospital. It was deeply embedded in the flesh and covered by tail feathers.

“Presumably someone must have shot this beautiful bird with this cruel weapon, and then calmly reloaded and shot him a second time.

“This is the most recent in what feels like a sustained attack on the wildlife in this area and I am very anxious to put a stop to it.

“Just two weeks ago a goose was shot with another crossbow down the road, and before that there were many others deliberately run over or shot with airguns, on one occasion even used as a football.

“This swan is in intensive care at the moment and I would love to be able to return him to the wild soon. He had begun to make his nest with his mate at the time, ready for laying eggs and raising this year’s brood.”

The goose, named Achilles after the indestructible demi-god, was found with a razor-tipped bolt sticking out of his back and also taken to East Winch. Alison Charles, manager at East Winch, said: “Sadly it is not looking good for this poor swan at the moment. The injuries here are truly horrific – it is so sad.”

Anyone with information about either of the attacks should call 0300 123 8018.

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