Police and RSPCA inspectors are investigating after a swan was shot dead on the clifftops near Bempton.
The whooper swan, which had flown southwards from Iceland for the winter, was found covered in blood and experts say it was shot several times from close range.
It was found by a member of the public in fields between Bempton Cliffs Nature Reserve and the village of Buckton.
RSPCA inspector and national wildlife officer co-ordinator Geoff Edmond said: “I feel outraged that this has happened.
“These birds come down predominantly from Iceland from October onwards to spend the winter months here. In other words this bird is likely to have flown around a thousand miles to suffer this terrible fate.
“The swan was an adult bird who is likely to have made this journey before, travelling thousands of miles in their life.”
Insp Edmond said X-rays had confirmed the swan, which was found on Sunday, October 29, had been shot.
“The bird is covered in pellets, it seems they were blasted at fairly close range,” he added. “A swan is a large bird that cannot be mistaken for anything else and it’s clear that this swan has been deliberately killed.”
Anyone with any information is urged to contact the RSPCA inspector appeal line on 0300 123 8018.
Ali Barratt, senior site manager at RSPB Bempton, said: “Whooper swans are magnificent birds.
“Visitors at Bempton are enjoying spectacular views of them at the moment as they fly in over the sea, having travelled together with their family groups from Iceland. It’s heartbreaking to think that this swan has made this epic journey only to be shot out of the sky here in Yorkshire.
“All swans are protected by law and to kill one is a criminal offence. This was a shocking and senseless act and should not go unpunished. We hope someone – a visitor at the reserve, perhaps – might have seen something and have information.”