WARNING: CONTAINS DISTRESSING CONTENT
The RSPCA is investigating after a pair of mating swans were found injured and eggs had disappeared from their nest, amid fears that the birds may have been attacked.
The swan was found with a fishing hook in his leg and was captured, before being taken to the RSPCA's Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre near Nantwich for treatment.
However, on closer inspection via x-ray, it became clear that the animal also had severe pelvic injuries, prompting concerns that he may have been attacked.
In the end, the injuries proved too substantial and the swan had to be put to sleep to end his suffering.
On Wednesday 24 June, the RSPCA received reports that the female swan was struggling to walk, and had to return to the nature reserve.
The female was then taken to Stapeley Grange, where she is now being treated for leg injuries.
The animal charity has now said it has received further reports that the swans' eggs had disappeared from the nest they made - and has asked anyone who may know something about this 'distressing incident' to get in touch with more information.
RSPCA animal rescuer Steve Wickham said: "At first we thought the male swan was injured due to the fishing hook caught on his leg as he was struggling to walk but an X-ray revealed he had serious pelvic injuries.
"Then we got a call about the female struggling to walk so we returned to the scene last week and she is now getting treatment for a leg injury.
"While we were at the rescue we were told by a regular visitor to the area that the swans had eggs in a nest and then they suddenly disappeared.
"He was concerned that they have been deliberately taken and it does sound that this sadly could be the case.
"It also makes me wonder if someone has attacked this pair of swans before targeting the eggs.
"It is so sad to think the swans were about to have a family and now only the female remains. I am keen to trace anyone who may know anything about this distressing incident to get in touch."
The RSPCA's inspectorate appeal line can be reached on 0300 123 8018.Featured Image Credit: RSPCA