A swan has died after being shot twice with a crossbow in Norfolk, just weeks after a goose was found nearby with a bolt in its back.
The disturbing attacks happened just two miles from each other and the RSPCA fears they could be linked.
Inspector Justin Stubbs said the swan, which was found swimming in a river in Upwell earlier this month, had one bolt in its shoulder and another deeply embedded in its rear.
He said: “I hadn't even seen the second bolt until the swan was examined by vets at the hospital. It was deeply embedded in the flesh and covered by tail feathers.
“Presumably someone must have shot this beautiful bird with this cruel weapon, and then calmly reloaded and shot him a second time.
“This is the most recent in what feels like a sustained attack on the wildlife in this area and I am very anxious to put a stop to it.”
The swan was rescued in a boat and taken to the RSPCA’s East Winch Wildlife Centre, where it was put in intensive care.
Initially it appeared to improve but an air sac had been punctured and the RSPCA put the bird down on Friday.
A goose shot in its back with a crossbow in Elm on 23 April has survived.
Rescuers named him “Achilles” after finding the bird had also endured a fishing line cut, an air gun pellet embedded in its left leg, a fractured wing and arthritic feet.
Alison Charles, the manager of East Winch Wildlife Centre, said: “The injuries here are truly horrific - it is so sad. It seems such a senseless and violent way to treat such graceful birds.”
The RSPCA said there had been many cruel attacks on birds in the area previously.
Some have been deliberately run over or shot with air guns and on one occasion a bird was even used as a football.
Crossbows are strictly controlled as a lethal weapon in many countries but in the UK it is legal for adults to own one and no licence is needed.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, it is an offence to take, injure or kill a swan. Punishment can include fines up to £5,000 or up to six months imprisonment.