A FEMALE swan was shot and killed in a ‘wicked’ attack near a Wakefield beauty spot.
The swan was found floating in the water near its nest, between the Lemonroyd and Woodlesford Locks, near Oulton on the Aire and Calder Canal, on Saturday.
It leaves behind its mate and a nest of 10 eggs.
The Yorkshire Swan Rescue (YSR) charity has labelled the incident ‘cruel’ and ‘wicked’.
Dan Sidley, founder of YSR, said incidents such as this are sadly quite common, with the charity dealing with up to 10 cases a year.
He said: “I can’t begin to understand why anybody would do that to a swan.
“Words fail me. It is just so mindless and cruel to deliberately do that.
“It is absolutely wicked, especially when the eggs are there in a vulnerable way, with the cygnets unhatched.
“It is just heart-breaking, really.”
An examination revealed that the bird had been killed by an air gun pellet, which was lodged in the animal’s neck.
Mr Sidley added: “She was a nesting swan and had been at the lock for about five or six years with her mate.
“The cygnets haven’t hatched yet and the male swan – the cob – is looking after them.
“Swans will only have one mate for life.
“It must have been distressing for him to see.”
It is hoped that the male swan will continue to protect and incubate the unhatched eggs.
Meanwhile, the charity will closely monitor their progress as they begin to hatch over the next five to six weeks.
Swans are known as the Queen’s birds and are classed as Crown property.
They are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an criminal offence to intentionally injure, take or kill a wild swan.
The incident has been reported to West Yorkshire Police.
For more about The Yorkshire Swan Rescue, visit www.ysrh.org.uk.