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Queen's swan marker calls for action after cygnet is shot and killed

Queen's swan marker calls for action after cygnet is shot and killed

Francis Batt

Queen's swan marker calls for action after cygnet is shot and killed
David Barber checks a swan during the annual Swan Upping

A horrifying attack on a helpless cygnet has led the Queen's swan marker David Barber to call for controls on the open sale of airguns.

The young swan was spotted floating dead in the river near the leisure centre in Stovell Road, Windsor on Sunday morning.  

A team from the Swan Lifeline charity on Cuckoo Weir Island, Eton went to the scene and found the cygnet, which had been killed by an airgun pellet.

It had only recently been 'tagged' under the supervision of the Queen's swan marker David Barber, whose team spent five days in July counting, weighing and measuring swans along the Thames.

Mr Barber said: "I'll be writing to the police.

"This was a young cygnet and what happened is horrific. It seems to be getting out of hand as we get increasing reports of people being seen in Windsor with airguns. 

"At the moment it seems anyone of any age can buy a weapon like this and I don't think that's good enough."

He called for a licensing system that would mean airgun owners were registered and identified.

Swan Lifeline co-ordinator Wendy Hermon, who retrieved the dead cygnet said: "It was only a cygnet and still had the tag on its foot from the Swan Upping a few weeks ago.

"We only spotted it a few days before feeding with its mum."

She said she had received reports on Wednesday last week of two lads walking over Windsor Eton Bridge openly carrying airguns.

Attacks on swans are now common on the river at Windsor with volunteers from Swan Lifeline regularly called out to rescue and treat injured birds.

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