A swan was injured with a crossbow in an 'act of appalling and deliberate animal cruelty' in Rotherham.
The bird's injuries were discovered at Silverwood Colliery Nature Reserve on Holling’s Lane, Ravensfield, by volunteers from the wildlife charity Yorkshire Swan Rescue.
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The alarm was raised by a member of the public, after the swan was observed for a number of days showing little interest in feeding and then abandoning a nest full of eggs.
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Wildlife crime officers from South Yorkshire Police are now investigating, after the bird was found to have been deliberately shot through its body with a 14-inch bolt fired from a crossbow.
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Dan Sidley, founder of the wildlife charity Yorkshire Swan Rescue, said: "We were first contacted over the weekend to assist a swan in difficulty on the lagoon at the old Silverwood Colliery site.
"To our absolute horror, we found the bird suffering in considerable distress with a crossbow bolt harpooned through her body.
"This is an act of appalling and deliberate animal cruelty. It is difficult for us to comprehend why anybody would deliberately harm such a beautiful bird. It’s sickening."
Mr Sidley added he believed the bird had been used as a 'sitting target'.
It is a criminal offence to intentionally injure, kill or take a wild swan.
Any nests and eggs of Mute Swans are also fully protected.
The rescued bird is now recovering at the sanctuary at Barlow, North Yorkshire, after a operation to remove the bolt.
Witnesses or anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident number 455/290418.