A swan has been released back into the wild months after being shot in the head by an airgun.
The swan had been found in July on a stretch of the River Nene, in March, with blood coming from the wound.
Luckily, after months of treatment at the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre, the swan was finally well enough to be released back onto the Nene by deputy chief inspector Jon Knight.
He said: “This poor swan suffered a traumatic injury as a result of this callous and cruel attack.
“It was touch-and-go for his first few weeks with us – we really did not know whether he was going to make it.
“But luckily he pulled through and was well enough to be returned to a similar area on the River Nene.”
The swan was discovered on July 1 in the Coldham Bank area.
In July RSCPA inspectors had found 23 air gun gas cartridges, in varying degrees of age, in a five-metre square area close to where the swan was found.
X-rays taken at the Norfolk wildlife hospital revealed a metal pellet had lodged in his head.
Staff at the hospital have cared for the swan and helped to get him back into the wild.
Dep Chief Insp Knight said: “He was so peaceful and relaxed when I released him and just sailed off into the morning sun as if nothing had happened, immediately back at home. The perfect release.
“These happy endings are definitely the best bit of the job. It is just so wonderful to see animals back out there in the wild – where they belong.”
He has been aware of other shootings along the river in the past several years.
Those found causing unnecessary suffering to an animal could be fined £20,000 or face six months in jail under the Animal Welfare Act.
The East Winch hospital cares for injured birds, seals, hedgehogs and is often appealing for donations to support its work.
See: www.rspca-eastwinch-wildlifecentre.co.uk/ for more information.