A MATURE swan at Waverley Abbey was lucky to escape death after being shot by a crossbow.
Lesley Reeves, who works for a charity at Waverley Abbey House, went out to feed the two swans who live on the nearby stream and made the gruesome discovery.
A green metal crossbow bolt was lodged in the male swan’s neck.
Rescuers from the Shepperton Swan and Wildfowl Sanctuary took two days to catch the injured swan, and he was taken to Middlesex Center to have the bolt removed.
One of the volunteer rescuers, Danni Rogers, said the swan was lucky to survive the ordeal.
“An inch anyway and it would have been fatal – we would have recovered the body of the cob,” he said.
“It was also very stressful for the female swan, the enclosure. The swans mate for life and we had to ask the people at Waverley Abbey House to keep an eye on the enclosure.
“Both swans are quite mature and we often hear that the stress of losing a mate causes a swan to die of a broken heart.”
Several longer arrowheads were later found around the path, lake and ruins, and police are investigating the incident. Mr Rogers added: “Wounding swans like this is illegal – and attacking them with a crossbow or bow and arrow could see someone spend a lot of time in jail.
“Unfortunately we see a lot of this in Hampshire and Surrey – people attack geese and ducks as well as swans – although this is the first time we’ve seen it in Waverley. Whether it’s youngsters or poachers, we just don’t know.
The swan survived the crossbow attack
( Shepperton Swan and Wildfowl Sanctuary ) ( Shepperton Swan and Wildfowl Sanctuary)