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Was dead swan found near Bishop's Stortford railway station really 'battered to death with old skateboard'?

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The death of a swan near Bishop's Stortford railway station sparked outrage and condemnation – but it is not being treated as a crime.

A woman posted on a Facebook forum on Sunday (Jan 10) that the bird had been "seemingly battered to death with an old skateboard" beside the new road that leads from Station Road to London Road across the Goods Yard development site. She called police.

The woman, 49, who had just dropped off her partner at the station, told the Indie on Monday (Jan 11): "It was an absolute bloody mess, just horrific.

The scene where the swan was found (43925426)
The scene where the swan was found (43925426)

"This was not an accident – it was mangled and its insides were coming out. I'm convinced it was a deliberate act and was hugely violent."

She insisted the bird could not have been hit by a vehicle because its body was found on a roadside island, not on the road itself, and that its injuries were not typical of roadkill.

The swan was about 50 yards from the River Stort, leading her to speculate that it had been dragged to its demise. "You'd never see a swan there, it's not where they'd be," she said. "They'd be on the river bank, never in some concrete car park."

Bishop's Stortford. BS Angling Club Fishing Lake, Twyford Road. Lone cygnet - presumed to belong to the swan that was killed. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (43919970)
Bishop's Stortford. BS Angling Club Fishing Lake, Twyford Road. Lone cygnet - presumed to belong to the swan that was killed. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (43919970)

Indie team member David James went to the site on Tuesday and found the bird's corpse still there, despite Hertfordshire police having informed East Herts Council to remove it.

It appeared that the swan was the unfortunate victim of nothing more sinister than having been accidentally hit by one of the several buses he saw using a turning circle at the new transport interchange in the short time that he was there. The likelihood is that the bird was then targeted by a fox or other animal as prey.

The skateboard fragment assumed to have been used as a weapon to bludgeon the bird to death was still there. It had clearly been abandoned some time ago and was likely to have been used by the driver to scoop the poor creature off the road.

Police were called at around 3pm on Sunday with the report of the dead swan. Officers attended and East Herts Council was informed to remove the animal.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA told the Indie that Sunday's incident had not been reported to them.

According to the animal charity, all wild birds – including swans – their nests and eggs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take them except under licence. The maximum penalty, if found guilty, is six months' prison and/or an unlimited fine.

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