AN appeal has been launched in a bid to find out who severely wounded a protected bird in the Dengie.

A young grey heron was reportedly shot in Althorne and landed in a field last week.

The bird was still alive but was suffering from a a broken wing and eventually had to be put down to end its suffering.

It was reported to the police that it was shot at about 9.30am last Tuesday.

Resident Linda Holmes, of Austral Way, said her daughter was in their house when she saw the bird go down from the room which overlooks the fields that back onto their garden.

Ms Holmes said: “My other daughter ran out to the garden and saw the bird flapping about in pain as it had been shot through its back and its wing.

“They called the RSPCA who told them to try and give it some water.

“Quite some time later, the RSPCA turned up to put the poor bird out of its misery.

“They told my daughter they want to find out who did this as this person has been shooting in a residential area.

“Also people have been telling me that these birds are protected.

“Whoever it is does this often as I hear gun shots while I’m in my house. I’ve heard them more than once or twice.

“It’s so loud and it’s very unnerving for it to be so near.

“It worries me being in the garden as I have two dogs.

“I’m really hoping we can find the person that did this.

Ms Holmes compared the sound to the noise of a gun normally used in clay pigeon shooting.

She added: “My daughter tells me the RSPCA said it would not have been an air rifle as it was too loud and air rifles can barely be heard.

“It’s just disgraceful. If people feel the need to shoot poor defenceless animals for fun, at least have the decency to kill them humanely and not in a residential area.”

It is against the law to kill or injure wild birds except under licence and individuals can face up to six months in prison and a potential unlimited fine.

A RSPCA spokesman said: “We are appealing for information after a heron was shot in the area of Althorne on Tuesday morning.

“We were called and an officer attended, but sadly the bird had severe injuries and the bone in the wing was snapped in half. The kindest thing to do was to put it to sleep to prevent it suffering further.

“It’s very distressing that anyone would do this to such a beautiful bird.

“We urge anyone with information with what happened or who knows who targeted this heron to call the RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line in confidence on 0300 123 8018.”

Police attended the scene as well and it is being treated as a criminal matter.

Anyone any information about the incident is urged to call call Essex Police on 101 quoting incident 995 of January 29.