A swan was found dead in a St Helens canal after being shot 16 times with a pellet gun.
A distressed member of the public found the fully-grown male dead in Sankey Valley Country Park at about 9.30am on Sunday, October 13.
When rangers attended, they found that the bird had suffered multiple airgun pellet injuries.
A fully-grown female swan is also believed to have been injured during the incident and efforts are currently being made to catch the swan to assess the injuries she has sustained.
The matter is now being investigated by police, in conjunction with the RSCPA and St Helens Council, and patrols have been stepped up in the area.
Merseyside Police’s Wildlife Officer, Rachael Krueger, said: “We are horrified that anyone could use an airgun to shoot and kill a swan.
“Thankfully incidents such as this are very rare but it is still absolutely appalling to think someone considers this acceptable behaviour and we’re appealing for anyone who knows who may be responsible to contact us.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0151 777 3503 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.