Shropshire Star

£2,000 reward after much-loved peacock shot six times with air gun is put down

A reward of up to £2,000 has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for shooting a peacock with an air gun, leading to it being put down.

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Animal organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says animal abusers are also a danger to humans and must be caught before they act again.

RSPCA animal rescue officer John Groarke attended the scene in Hinstock after the injured bird was found in a field in Hatton Road on January 28 by a local resident. It had been shot six times with an airgun and had six pellets inside it. It was later put down.

PETA Vice President Elisa Allen said: "It’s imperative that any community faced with cruel and callous acts such as this take measures to find the culprit and bring them to justice

“Animal abusers are a danger to everyone: they take their issues out on whomever is available to them – humans or other animals – and must be caught before they act again.”

The bird was rushed to a local wildlife hospital and "humanely euthanised" due to the severity of his injuries – which included a shattered leg and severely damaged muscles and tendons.

The peacock after it was found by the RSPCA

PETA says that history shows that past incidents involving cruelty to animals regularly appear in the records of serial rapists and murderers.

The RSPCA has also urged people with information to come forward following what it called a "senseless and appalling act of cruelty" after the peacock was found in the village near Market Drayton.

The animal charity has also released X-rays of the peacock, which was shot six times with pellets lodged in its leg and several other areas following the shooting.

The peacock was rushed to the animal welfare charity’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Hospital in Cheshire for treatment, where X-rays revealed an airgun pellet had completely shattered its left leg.

The shocked vet also found a further five pellets which had gone through the bird’s body in several places causing severe damage to muscles and tendons.

It was so severely injured the vet made the decision to put it to sleep on welfare grounds to prevent further suffering.

An X-ray showing the six pellets lodged in the peacock

Mr Groarke said: “We were told that residents in this area had been keeping an eye on this beautiful bird for about eight years, and they were genuinely very upset to hear the shocking news.

“They loved to watch him fly into the fields near their properties and were very fond of his presence.

“The person who reported the peacock to us suspected he was badly injured as his foot looked twisted and he was unable to walk.

"It’s a senseless and appalling act of cruelty and very upsetting for people who have got so much enjoyment from watching this bird grace their neighbourhood.”

Between 50 and 70 animals that have been targeted with airguns are treated by Stapeley Grange every year. Victims include swans, geese, ducks, birds of prey and pigeons as well badgers, foxes and squirrels.

Centre manager Lee Stewart said: “From the amount of pellets we found, it's clear that someone has set out to intentionally kill this peacock rather than taking a quick pot shot, and unfortunately they succeeded.

“Our experience here at the centre shows there are people out there who are deliberately targeting wildlife, pets and farm animals with airguns. The consequences can be devastating and what we hear about is probably only the tip of the iceberg as not all cases will be reported to us and there may be situations where animals injured and killed by these weapons are sadly never found, especially in the case of wildlife.”

The RSPCA is urging anyone with firsthand information about the incident to call its appeals line on 0300 123 8018.