11:12AM, Friday 23 August 2013
Shock has been expressed following the gruesome discovery of a swan's barbecued and half-eaten carcass at a popular public picnic spot in Windsor.
The grim remains were discovered on Baths Island, opposite the leisure centre in Stovell Road, by Royal Borough community warden Peter Murkin.
The find made national news headlines and caused shockwaves on Twitter, with users labelling the treatment of the swan as 'sick', 'disgusting' and 'an outrage'.
Mr Murkin was part of a team of wardens who were patrolling the island about noon on Sunday when the carcass was found. Ironically they were checking no barbecues had taken place as they are not allowed on the site.
Senior warden Andy Aldridge said: "The dead swan was badly scorched but still had feathers.
"Volunteers from Swan Lifeline came down quickly and took it away as we did not want families to see it when they came to the island. The police are now involved and we are stepping up patrols across the area."
The incident follows the discovery of other dead species of bird by the river over recent weeks.
None are believed to have died as a result of fox attacks or of natural causes.
Swan Lifeline co-ordinator Wendy Hermon said the swan's body had definitely been partly eaten.
She said: "Our vet agrees that meat has been taken out of its chest area.
"The police have been marvellous. They have contacted me and are clearly taking this seriously."
Centuries ago swans were often on the menu at royal banquets and feasts.
But now it is an offence to intentionally injure, take or kill a wild swan, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Police confirmed this week they are investigating the incident.
But they are treating it as theft, as swans are technically royal property, and it still has not been confirmed if the bird died violently.
Call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 with information.
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