YOUNG louts kicked a pigeon to death in front of shocked park users.
Moments earlier, the two boys had been publicly told off by a nature lover for stoning ducklings and goslings on the pond in Mesnes Park.
Stunned witnesses believe they took out their embarrassment by attacking the helpless bird, which, seconds earlier had been pecking bread scraps from children.
The attack was seen by Wigan actress Pam Shaw (pictured, right), who had been walking a friend’s dog around the park when she saw the youths throwing gravel at the wildfowl.
She tried to take pictures of them with her mobile phone, camera but they raced off on their bikes when they saw what she was attempting.
Ms Shaw believes the two boys were between nine and 10 years old.
There were no park rangers at the park on the Sunday afternoon, and she was forced to leave a tearful message on an answerphone when she rushed to the Pavilion Cafe to complain.
She is now demanding that park managers Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) provide better park ranger provision at the Victorian masterpiece park.
But WLCT – which is battling to save a quarter of its annual budget because of Government cuts – today denied it had left the park “unprotected” in an effort to save cash.
And it stressed it takes reports of such incidents “very seriously”.
A spokesman said: “We do have adequate cover on site and have reported this incident to the police.”
Ms Shaw, of Banner Street, Ince, is a frequent visitor to the park, and a member of the Friends group.
She said the brutality of the incident had affected her profoundly.
The incident occurred only minutes after the duty park ranger had clocked off for the day.
Ms Shaw said: “I haven’t been able to sleep properly since, it was such an awful thing.
“I often go to the park to feed the ducks with bread, but on Sunday, when I got there I could see two young boys were there throwing stones at some of ducklings on the duck pond.
“I was furious and I asked them what on earth they were doing to defenceless little creatures like this and told them to stop it straight away.
“They gave me a mouthful back and walked off.
Then I saw one of them kick out at a pigeon near their feet like it was a football.
Then the other lad stamped on the pigeon’s head with all his might, killing it outright.
“It was a horrible thing to do and you wonder what on earth is in their minds.
“They were so young aswell, maybe the last years in Primary School, that you have to worry what they are going to be like as teenagers.”
A spokesman for the RSPCA said that pigeons, like all wild birds, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it illegal to kill, injure or take a wild bird or interfere with it’s nest or eggs.
She said : “We haven’t been contacted about this so at the moment we aren’t investigating.
“However, this kind of deliberate cruelty is absolutely shocking and we’d urge anyone who witnesses such an incident to contact police or the RSPCA.
“Pigeons are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes killing or injuring them illegal. Causing unnecessary suffering to an animal carries a maximum of six months in prison and/or £20,000 fine under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.”
Greater Manchester Police today confirmed that a park ranger had made a complaint to them about youngsters killing a pigeon by stamping on it’s head.