Police urged to do more after swan attacks

Police are not doing enough to protect swans and other birds on the River Thames from being attacked, a charity has said.

Wendy Hermon, from Swan Support, said birds were being regularly targeted with air guns and catapults.

She said the situation had become "ridiculous" and believed officers did not treat wildlife attacks as seriously as they should.

Thames Valley Police has not responded to a request for comment.

Ms Hermon, whose charity rescues injured birds and reports incidents to the force, told BBC Radio Berkshire: "I've been doing this for 30 years and it's absolutely soul-destroying and exhausting.

"It's every week that we are going out to something - and nothing is being done. Wildlife crime has got to be treated as a priority."

She believed perpetrators of this type of animal cruelty were more likely to go on to commit more serious crimes.

'Nothing happens'

Ms Hermon gave an example of an attack in April when a swan was injured in Wraysbury, Berkshire.

Five pieces of ammunition, likely from both a catapult and an air weapon, were found in the swan's head, neck and wing. It had surgery to remove the pellets but later died.

On a Facebook post, the charity said the last school half-term break had been “horrendous” for bird attacks, with Windsor being a “hotspot”.

The post said "a number of pigeons, three geese, two ducks and one coot" had been killed across four evenings, and the incidents had been reported to police.

Ms Hermon said: “Shooting animals, not just swans and birds, leads on to other things as they get older.

“It’s not just swans and birds that suffer, it’s animals, cats and dogs. We’ve had calls about dogs being hit in Datchet.”

She added: “We’re having regular meetings with Thames Valley Police. Our main issue was we didn’t think [they] were doing enough for wildlife crime compared to other police forces.

“Swan Support appreciates there can be more urgent cases that need to be dealt with but we feel that wildlife crime is not very high up on their list.

"Sometimes police say they’re doing something and nothing happens."

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