A HERON has died after it was shot with an air gun in Belbroughton.

The bird was found lying next to a stream on Sunday, April 16 with a broken leg.

He was rescued by the RSPCA and taken to Vale Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for an x-ray, but was so badly injured that he was put to sleep to prevent further suffering.

RSPCA inspector Suzi Smith, who rescued the bird, said: "It was clearly a very painful injury which had left the heron severely injured and unable to hunt.

“It is very distressing to think that people take pleasure in causing harm to these beautiful and defenceless birds. This appears to have been a deliberate act of cruelty which caused the heron to tragically lose its life.

“Unfortunately, air rifle attacks are not as rare as we would like. The injuries caused by such attacks are horrific and often fatal.

"Cats and wildlife are normally the animals that are more susceptible to these incidents simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them."

The RSPCA is now calling for tighter controls and better education when it comes to the law regarding air rifle ownership.

It is against the law to kill or injure wild birds, except under licence, and people can be fined up to £5,000 and jailed for up to six months for each bird killed.

Anyone with information on the attack of this heron is urged to contact the RSPCA Inspectorate Appeal Line in confidence on 0300 123 8018.

To donate, visit rspca.org.uk/give.