The RSPCA is appealing for information after six birds were found dead, shortly after a group of teenagers were seen shooting at birds with a catapult next to a canal in Wolverhampton.

Two teenage males with a black medium-sized dog, thought to have a docked tail, were witnessed by a member of the public aiming at the birds along the Wyrley and Essington canal, near Clanfield Avenue in the Wednesfield area of the city, at about 6.30pm on Saturday 29 April.

The bodies of four mallard ducks and two coots were found at the side of the canal at the spot where the teenagers were seen shooting.

RSPCA inspector Vicki Taylor, who is investigating, said: “The person who witnessed this said that it looked as though they were using ball bearings to catapult at the birds.

“Afterwards, the teenagers walked towards the Castlebridge estate. We are keen to find out who they were and we are asking anyone who has any information to get in touch with us.

“It is obviously very concerning that these birds were being shot at. Such unnecessary and callous attacks can cause a lot of pain and distress to birds, and are often fatal – such as in this case.

“It is so upsetting to think that people take pleasure in causing such horrific injuries to defenseless animals. These are deliberate acts of cruelty and we would appeal to people’s consciences not to commit these offences.

“We would also like to remind people that under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is illegal to take, injure or kill wild birds or interfere with their nest or eggs, unless under licence. The maximum penalty, if found guilty, is six months in prison and a £5,000 fine.”

Anyone who has any information about the incident is asked to contact the RSPCA in complete confidence on 0300 123 8018, leaving a message for Inspector Taylor, or contact West Midlands Police on 101.

The RSPCA is a charity and we rely on public donations to exist. To assist our inspectors in carrying out their vital work please text HELP to 78866 to give £3. (Texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message.)