An investigation has been launched after a duck had to be put down because of injuries sustained when it was shot with a catapult in a West Norfolk village.
Animal welfare officials have today appealed for information about the injuries caused to the mallard, which was captured by RSPCA staff in Stow Bridge last month.
The female bird, which had been reported to the charity by a member of the public, was taken to its East Winch wildlife centre for treatment.
But vets took the decision to put her down after they found a piece of ammunition wedged in her leg and causing a fracture.
The centre’s manager, Alison Charles, said: “Our vet examined the duck on arrival and found that he was unable to walk due to a huge swelling on the lower part of his leg and angulation on the limb.
“As the injury was so severe the kindest thing to do was to put the duck to sleep to prevent him suffering further.
“It’s so sad to think that this poor duck had to suffer as a result of a injury which was most likely caused deliberately.
“The bird had been seen by members of the public in the area and had been getting worse over time.
“It’s awful to think that this bird would have suffered as a result of someone’s cruel actions.
“We want to highlight this sad incident so that people can keep an eye out for wildlife in the area, although we hope that this was an isolated incident.”
Wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and it is illegal, except under licence, to take, injure or kill wild birds or interfere with their nest or eggs.
The maximum penalty, if found guilty of such an offence, is six months in prison and/or a £5,000 fine.
Anyone who has information about the incident is asked to phone the RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line in confidence on 0300 1238018.