Authorities are investigating after a swan was found swimming with a sock pulled over its head in what they believe was a “mindless prank”.
The sock was pulled so “snug” over the bird’s head that Lincolnshire Police believe it was intentionally targeted in an act of animal cruelty.
Starvation or suffocation would have likely killed the swan if it had not been rescued from a drain in the Lincoln area, in Northern England, on May 2.
“Any type of animal cruelty will not be tolerated and we will carry out a full investigation into this incident,” a police spokesperson said.
“We work with wildlife organisations who report these incidents to us so we can investigate.”
Furious online reaction to swan 'prank'
Online the reaction has been furious, with hundreds of comments across Twitter and Facebook calling the act “horrible”, “truly twisted” and “vile”.
“This is absolutely heartbreaking. Imagine the struggle to get it on the poor darling's head,” one person wrote.
“Disputable appalling act of cruelty and violence against this Swan. Hope the culprit or culprits caught soon,” another said.
"There’s an awful lot of cruel people out there and it’s frightening to know they walk amongst us," someone else wrote.
Others called for tougher penalties for wildlife crimes and questioned whether the culprit's DNA could be extracted from the sock.
Swan sock prank could have led to deaths
RSPCA said they were working alongside police to try and track down those responsible.
An inspector from the charity, Kate Burris, said the "prank" could have been devastating for not only the swan, but also its babies.
“Given that this is the breeding and nesting season at the moment this could have also resulted in suffering, and sadly death for any dependent offspring," she said.
She urged anyone with information on the swan attack to come forward.
In the UK swans are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, making it an offence to kill or harm wildlife except under licence.
Jail terms and unlimited fines can apply to those found guilty of harming birds or animals.
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