TWO of Maryport's iconic swans have been shot dead and a number of other birds injured.

Resident Mark Bewley said a number of ducks have been found dead and there are also 'a larger than usual number' of seagulls with broken wings on the harbour.

"There are a couple who feed the birds who took the swans to a wildlife trust," he said.

"They were dead on arrival and the experts said they had obviously been killed by an air rifle."

Two men in a van had been seen near the River Ellen by Mote Hill where the swans have made their home for many years.

Police said wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 making it illegal to kill, or injure them.

"Swans can also be classed as property of the Queen and as such killing or injuring one could also amount to an offence of criminal damage," a police spokesman said.

Mr Bewley said these incidents have not been reported because of the lengthy waits experienced by people trying to contact police on the 101 non-emergency line.

The police spokesman said: "We would urge anyone with any information to report this matter to us.

"If there is a crime in progress - if something is happening in front of you - then call 999.

"If it is something you are reporting after the fact, then time is not a factor and one of our non-emergency options is more appropriate, including our new Live Chat function."