Six mute swans (Cygnus olor) have been beheaded and butchered for meat in a park in Derby.
Council workers in Alvaston Park discovered a dead bird three weeks ago and more have been found since. PC Andy Sudbury of Derbyshire Police said: "Someone is using a sharp instrument to cut their heads off and the breasts are being cut out, probably for food. We believe the swans are being targeted because, unlike ducks, their size means they are easier to grab by the neck."
There are now only 16 swans remaining in the park. Philip Ollerenshaw, chairman of the Alvaston Park Friends group, said: "I hope the police quickly find those responsible and bring them to justice. We are appalled to hear about this."
Local councillor Alan Graves said: "Leaving these carcasses in our park where the general public can see them is quite a disgraceful activity. It is one of the laws of this land that you do not kill swans and I feel the full weight of the law should be brought down on whoever is doing this."
If caught, the offenders could face a £5,000 fine or six months in prison. Councillor Paul Bayliss said: "It is terrible. People should not be doing this. The big question for me is what the park rangers and the police are doing about trying to catch those responsible."
● If you have any information please contact PC Sudbury or PC Lockett at Derbyshire Police by dialling the phone number 101 and following the menu.