Swan shot twice by crossbow on Fen river dies five days later at Norfolk welfare centre which had fought to save its life

RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs with the shot swan at Upwell RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs with the shot swan at Upwell

Saturday, May 10, 2014
11:30 AM

A swan shot twice by a crossbow has died at the Norfolk animal sanctuary which had been fighting to save his life.

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

An RSPCA spokesman said that yesterday morning – five days after the attack- the swan remained in intensive concern but for the time being “he is ok”.

Late yesterday the RSPCA confirmed that the swan had died.

“He took a sudden turn for the worse and sadly had to be put to sleep to end his suffering,” said the spokesman.

The swan had been treated at the East Winch wildlife centre after it had been taken there from the river at Upwell near Wisbech.

Two bolts had been fired into the swan and it was rescued after being spotted on the River Nene by people enjoying a boat trip.

The attack – thought to be by the same or similar weapon used on a goose in nearby Elm two weeks earlier- left RSPCA officials baffled and angry.

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

The RSPCA said the bolts fired into the swan “were not hard to remove but because the air sac was pierced there was a high risk of infection.”

RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs had rescued the swan with the help of a member of the public and his kayak, and rushed it to the wildlife centre.

An examination showed that not only was there one crossbow bolt in the swan’s shoulder, but also a second bolt deeply embedded in the swan’s flank rear.

The swan was found just two miles from where a goose was shot with another crossbow in Elm on April 23.

Inspector Stubbs said he 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 who have been deliberately run over or shot with air guns in the area, on one occasion even used as a football.

Alison Charles, manager at East Winch, said the injuries to the swan were “truly horrific - it is so sad. It seems such a senseless and violent way to treat such graceful birds.”

Anyone with any information about either of the attacks should call The RSPCA confidential hotline on 0300 123 8018.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to take, injure or kill a swan and punishment can include fines up to £5,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to six months.

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