Nature lovers have been urged to be vigilant after air rifle attacks resumed at a Wigan beauty spot.
Earlier this year a swan was shot dead at Amberswood nature reserve, near Hindley, in what was believed to be an air weapon assault.
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Just a fortnight ago another swan was butchered after a yob is thought to have dropped a heavy slab on the bird from a bridge there.
And now police have alerted the public to the further targeting of wildlife at the reserve, which is managed by Wigan Council.
A spokesman for Hindley Police said they had received reports of “someone shooting an air rifle at swans in the Green Waters area.”
The incident is also said to have left a five-year-old, visiting the reserve with family, “very upset”.
Neighbourhood police have insisted that animal cruelty will not be tolerated at Amberswood and have urged people to come forward if they have any ideas over who may be responsible for the attacks.
One nature lover, who contacted the Wigan Post to highlight the incident but asked not to be named, said: “It’s about time something was done about these marksmen.
“These are protected birds and you just feel like taking the law into your own hands with this kind of barbarity.”
The situation became so grave at Amberswood recently that a female swan and her four cygnets were relocated from the reserve to Saddleworth, amid ongoing fears regarding their safety.
Photographer Steve Heaton stepped in and asked Birds of a Feather Animal Rescue to act as he felt the pattern of attacks had put the swans in jeopardy.
Permission was sought from the council for the transfer and the birds are understood to be thriving in their new home.
He said: “I have no doubt the people who killed the male swan would have killed the rest if they had been left at Amberswood.”
Similar attacks on swans have been reported at Pennington Flash in Leigh, with youths said to have been armed with golf clubs.
Council officials have also urged the public to provide information.
Police can be contacted about the air rifle attacks, which took place last Wednesday, by calling the non-emergency number, 101.
The RSPCA can be also be alerted to any cruelty incidents via their national hotline, 0300 123 4999, or by going online to www.rspca.org.uk