A brutal attack on two swans has fuelled fears that shooting and maiming birds is becoming a popular 'sport' in Windsor.
A male swan was spotted floating dead just outside Cuckoo Weir Island, Eton, at 4.15pm on Wednesday. It had been shot with an airgun.
Later that night at about 6.45pm a female swan was spotted by a member of the public on the river at Barry Avenue, Windsor. She had a hole in her cheek caused by an airgun.
Wendy Hermon, co-ordinator at the Swan Lifeline rescue centre which is based at Cuckoo Weir Island, said: "We believe she is the mate of the dead swan. Swans make a specific sound when they are trying to find their mate. She was calling for him all the way, as she was taken back to our centre for treatment."
Wendy says she is sickened by growing evidence that shooting at birds is becoming a popular 'sport' among some sections of the population.
She has found evidence under the Windsor Eton Relief Road of discarded Co2 capsules used to lubricate airguns.
Police believe the attacks might be connected with criminal gangs who regularly trespass on private land in Windsor, Datchet, Wraysbury and the Eton Wick area, practising illegal hare coursing and shooting rabbits.
Police receive calls most weeks from landowners who have discovered evidence of this.
Inspector Pete Dalton from Windsor police station described the latest attack as horrific.
Speaking today, he said: "It is sheer cruelty. We will be liaising closely with Wendy to catch the people responsible.
"We have been utilising CCTV cameras and automatic number plate recognition. We already have some leads; a dirty, dark blue Land Rover or Range Rover was seen in the area."
Anyone who can help police should ring 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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