A well-known mute swan has been shot and killed at a nature reserve.
Rescuers from Blyth Wildlife Rescue received multiple call-outs to Hebburn Nature Reserve after reports that the male swan was dead in the water.
Members of the public raised the alarm as concern grew for the swan’s mate and six newly-hatched cygnets following the bird’s death.
Initially, the distraught female swan was believed to not be tending to the youngsters. On attending the scene, the female and cygnets were found to be in good health and the male swan’s body had been removed by council workers.
The popular swans are looked after at the reserve by a strong following of local residents, who feed the birds and look after the park area.
Members of Blyth Wildlife Rescue collected the body and performed an examination to try to find the cause of death.
It was confirmed by rescuers and the charity’s vet that the bird had been shot with an air rifle pellet to the abdomen.
Charity founder John Anderson said: “Unfortunately, from the state of the wound and the infection present, it was clear that the bird had been shot several days to a week before death.
“Obviously, it’s very distressing for the many people who care about the birds and disappointing we weren’t able to help the bird.”
Anyone with information should contact Northumbria Police, quoting incident number 22 of 22/05/18.
For more about Blyth Wildlife Rescue visit www.b-w-r.org.uk