POLICE are keeping an open mind over whether the shooting of a cat and swan in Royal Wootton Bassett are linked.

Sgt Katharine Smith of the town’s community policing team said there was as yet nothing to suggest the two shootings were directly linked but added: “We will keep an open mind.”

At the start of March, Clare Borras of New Road discovered that pet cat The King – named after Elvis Presley – had a pellet embedded in his back.

Clare said: “He’s been shot with what I believe is an air rifle pellet that embedded into his skin. No one accidentally hits a cat so someone has done this on purpose, someone has used him as target practice."

She added: “I wasn’t going to report it to the police until my brother made a point that there could have been multiple incidents of this and it will help catch the person. If someone is doing this sort of thing regularly then it’s worrying.”

Then on Saturday, a female swan was discovered shot dead at the canal off Bincknoll Lane. The pen, dubbed Alfreda by camera club member Stuart Thomsett, had been nesting.

Stuart said: “It was awful, she was left there dead, someone told me she had two wounds on her back. There were so many people about on Saturday that somebody probably saw something.”

The Wilts and Berks Canal Trust has offered a £1,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of the perpetrator.

Oak and Furrows wildlife rescue centre administrator Anj Saunders told the Adver: “To take the life of an innocent creature in this manner is absolutely abhorrent and her mate is now left lonely and grieving.”

In a statement, Sgt Smith said: “These incidents have understandably caused concern in the local community and I want to provide reassurance that they are being fully investigated.

“What is clear is that these types of incidents are completely unacceptable and we will be doing everything we can to identify suspects and ensure they are brought to justice.

“I would urge anyone with information, no matter how small it might be, to call Wiltshire Police on 101.”

An RSPCA spokesman said: “Every year the RSPCA receives almost 1,000 calls to investigate cases and help hundreds of animals that are the defenceless victims of air gun attacks. 

“It is very distressing to think that people take pleasure in causing such horrific injuries to defenceless animals. These are deliberate and brutal acts of cruelty.

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