Animal lovers have told of their outrage after a “very popular” disabled goose was among two birds shot dead in a Sunderland park.
Police were called to Herrington Country Park, in Penshaw, after the goose and a swan were found dead.
The goose, nicknamed Stumpy, was well known in the park for its distinctive walk, which was caused by a club foot.
The female swan, meanwhile, had been sitting on a nest of eggs on an island close to the large model boating lake in the park, with the goose found beside her, after a member of the public notified park staff on Friday.
Park wardens left the eggs in the nest in the hope that another swan would nest there, but it is as yet unknown whether the eggs survived.
Linda Charlton, of the Swan Trust, said: “It’s despicable, and whoever did this are mindless thugs.
“They have deliberately targeted these birds. The swan was shot in the back of the neck.
“The goose had been around for a long time, and was everyone’s favourite, apparently.
“It was just a downright act of cruelty. It’s sickening.”
Wayne Badresingh, from Penshaw, has been a regular visitor to the park for more than 10 years, and had taken the greylag goose to his heart. Mr Badresingh, 50, said: “Everyone seemed to take the little goose to their heart. She had been very popular and I think people need to know what has happened to these poor creatures. I want a bit of justice for them, as it isn’t fair.
“Anyone who has spent much time in the park around the large lake will probably have come across the goose, with her club foot and pitiful walk. She was one of the most friendly birds you could imagine.
“Although disabled, she learned to befriend the public and could still hold her own around the other geese.”
‘This type of behaviour is not acceptable’
Councillor Michael Mordey, portfolio holder for city services at Sunderland City Council, described the killings as “very, very sad”.
He said: “This is a very, very sad case, and we are keen to assist the police.
“The wildlife in parks such as Herrington bring a lot of joy and pleasure to many thousands of visitors.
“I’d urge anyone with any information to contact the police and help bring this person or persons to justice. This type of behaviour is sick and not acceptable.”
Police are appealing for any witnesses.
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Inquiries are ongoing to establish what happened.
“Initial inquiries suggest the swans may have been shot.”
Any witnesses are asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference 231050615, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.