Police investigate illegal killing of shelduck between Bideford and Appledore.

Police and wildlife campaigners have condemned the illegal killing of a shelduck, thought to have been shot by a crossbow.

The bird, a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, was discovered on the banks of the River Torridge, near Boat Hyde, between Bideford and Appledore.

It was reported to police by Dr Stan Coats, from Northam, at around 10.30am on May 16.

“It has clearly been shot and killed by a bolt from a crossbow. It was one of a pair of birds, which are probably nesting nearby,” said Dr Coats.

“Apart from the suffering caused to the bird, it is illegal to shoot any wild bird and it is about time that something was done about the use of these potentially fatal weapons.”

This week, Diana Lewis of North Devon Animal Ambulance, said she had collected two baby shelduck – only a day or so old – from Torbridge vets, taken in by a member of public who found them in a distressed state near the Torridge.

“I took them straight to RSPCA’s West Hatch wildlife hospital in Taunton as they are difficult to feed and care for,” she said.

“It is a very sad attitude in the name of someone’s idea of sport,” she added.

“Shelduck are not on the legal list for wildfowl shooting, and absolutely not now at breeding season.

“It is totally unacceptable and would never have been carried out by a professional.”

If you have any information about the incident, email police at 101@dc.police.uk or call 101 with crime reference CR/377 86/17. Alternatively, email WildlifeCrime@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk.

Information can also be passed anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or reporting online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.