A CYGNET was found dead in North Dorset after possibly being shot at with a catapult, say police.

PC Rob Hammond, of Blandford Neighbourhood Policing Team, discovered the cygnet on the River Stour at Stour Meadows in Blandford on Saturday evening.

He said: “A member of the public had reported an issue with people leaving rubbish and we found some rubbish near a bench and a container of ball bearings underneath. Around three to five metres away on the other side of the river was the cygnet.”

“There was a family of swans there with six cygnets. They’re quite big, it’s unlikely it’s died from anything other than being fired at."

Swans are covered under The Wildlife and Countryside Protection Act 1981.

The act states that all wild birds are protected and members of the public must not “intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird.”

The cygnet was taken to a local vet to establish how it died.

PC Hammond added: “It’s actually really horrible and I’m really unhappy about it.”

Dorset Police said: “Officers from the local neighbourhood policing team are available and can assist with any community concerns.”

Anyone with information should call 101 quoting the reference 55180111108.