The Metropolitan Police are appealing for witnesses after a swan was found dead at a South London lake with a gunshot wound to the head.
The swan was found under a footbridge near Bazalgette Way in Southmere Lake, Bexley on Monday (July 26).
In a statement posted on twitter, Bexley Police said: “On 26/07/21 a swan was found dead at Southmere Lake with a gunshot wound to the head.
“The swan was recovered under the foot bridge near Bazalgette Way, SE2. #metwildlifecrimeunit is appealing for information to ID the culprit/s. Please [call] 101 quoting 3483/28JUL21.”
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Following the incident in Bexley many people on social media have expressed their disgust at the swan shooting.
One person said: “Why would ‘anyone’ wish to harm a beautiful swan let alone shoot it dead …. so sad to read this 🙁 Hope they find the culprit!”
Another added: “Heartbreaking, how could anyone do this.”
A third replied: “Terrible – what vile scum do. Makes my blood boil.”
All swans are the property of the Queen, and killing one is an act of treason. Since the 12th century, the Crown has held the right to ownership over all wild, unmarked mute swans in open water.
Therefore killing one is considered to be a very serious criminal offence.
Historically, this legislation was created because swans were eaten as a prized food at banquets and feasts. Valuable rights of ownership were granted by the monarch to a select few. But today, swans are no longer eaten and are a protected species.
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Apart from the Queen, there are only three organisations that are allowed to own swans – Abbotsbury Swannery since the 14th Century, the Vintners since the 15th Century and the Dyers also since the 15th Century.
They have maintained their unique marks for swans which are made on the birds’ beaks, but those unmarked are owned by the Queen.
Killing swans has been outlawed since 1980.
Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact the Metropolitan Police by phone on 101 quoting 3483/28JUL21.