A Whooper swan has been found shot dead in the cliff-top fields between the Bempton Cliffs RSPB Nature Reserve and Buckton in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The bird would have been visiting Britain for the winter.
RSPCA inspector and national wildlife officer co-ordinator Geoff Edmond said: “I feel outraged that this has happened.
“These birds come down predominantly from Iceland from October onwards to spend the winter months here. In other words this bird is likely to have flown around a thousand miles to suffer this terrible fate.
“The swan was an adult bird who is likely to have made this journey before, travelling thousands of miles in their life.”
The bird was collected from the cliff top fields by inspector Edmond where they were found by a member of the public on Sunday 29 October.
They were covered in blood and suspected of being shot which has now been confirmed with x-rays.
“The bird is covered in pellets, it seems they were blasted at fairly close range,” said inspector Edmond. “A swan is a large bird that cannot be mistaken for anything else and it’s clear that this swan has been deliberately killed.”
Anyone with any information about who is responsible, or who saw anything, is being urged to contact the RSPCA inspector appeal line on 0300 123 8018 and ask to leave a message for inspector Edmond.
“I am working closely with both Humberside Police and the RSPB on this investigation,” he added.
Ali Barratt, senior site manager at RSPB Bempton, said: “Whooper swans are magnificent birds.
“Visitors at Bempton are enjoying spectacular views of them at the moment as they fly in over the sea, having travelled together with their family groups from Iceland. It’s heartbreaking to think that this swan has made this epic journey only to be shot out of the sky here in Yorkshire.
“All swans are protected by law and to kill one is a criminal offence. This was a shocking and senseless act and should not go unpunished. We hope someone – a visitor at the reserve, perhaps – might have seen something and have information.”
To help the RSPCA continue investigating incidents like this please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give