A PIGEON has been put down after being struck by a heavy lead weight fired from a catapult in Wimborne.
The wild bird was seen covered in blood after being fired at by teenage boys in the Egdon Drive area, an RSPCA spokesperson said.
Inspectors from the organisation are appealing for more information about the incident, which took place at around 6pm on Thursday, May 29.
It is believed the bird was struck by a 20-gram heavy lead weight by two teenage boys, aged around 15.
Intentionally killing or injuring a wild bird is a crime under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and can result in a fine of up to £5,000 and six months imprisonment.
RSPCA animal welfare officer Sue Brooks said: “This poor feral pigeon suffered heavy blows to its beak and chest and was badly injured in the attack.
“Sadly the damage to the bird’s lower beak was so severe it meant it could no longer eat or drink so it had to be put to sleep.
“The pigeon was fatally injured and covered in blood, it would have been a distressing incident for the kind member of the public who picked it up and reported it to us.
"Pigeons exist in close contact to people on a daily basis and are generally an accepted part of towns and cities in Britain but occasionally we do get reports of incidents in which they are attacked - there is no excuse for causing such suffering whatsoever. We would like to remind people that these attacks are illegal.
"We are appealing for anyone with information about the attack on May 29 to come forward.”
She added: "Shooting of pets or birds with different weapons seems to be increasing but it causes a great deal of distress and even death to the animals involved, which was the case here.”
Anyone with information about the incident should call the RSPCA inspector line on 0300 123 8018.