A pigeon was shot with an arrow in a sickening attack in Lewes over the weekend.
The feral bird was impaled by the weapon and, despite the efforts of vets, did not survive the ordeal.
The action has been described this week as “horrific” and “sinister”. Police are investigating.
Seahaven Bird Rescue was called by a member of the public late on Sunday afternoon after the pigeon was discovered at the rear of Tesco, Brooks Road.
Upon arriving at the scene, medics from the wildlife rescue charity were shocked to see an archery arrow 26ins (66cms) in length lodged directly through the abdomen of the bird.
The medics immediately stemmed the bleeding and administered pain relief on site. Carefully handling the pigeon, they took him straight to a local veterinary practice for an X-ray to see how extensive the damage was and to potentially have the arrow removed.
Staff at the Grove Lodge Veterinary Group, Worthing, were horrified by the injuries. Unfortunately, removal of the shaft would have led to the bird bleeding to death so it was humanely put to sleep to prevent further suffering.
Carrie Grace, the founder of Newhaven-based Seahaven Bird Rescue, said: “This act of cruelty is extremely concerning, especially due to the fact it involved a large and dangerous weapon.
“To shoot an arrow through an innocent animal completely unnecessarily and leave it to die a long and painful death is absolutely horrific and sickening. “We are working alongside Sussex Police to ensure the person that committed this crime is caught before they cause any more damage.”
She added: “We were deeply saddened the pigeon died but happy it no longer had to suffer unnecessarily.”
A spokesperson for Grove Lodge said: “Our whole team is totally horrified by the severe nature of injuries inflicted on this poor pigeon.
“We see a wide variety of injuries and ailments in our dedicated wildlife rescue unit at Grove Lodge Veterinary Hospital but this is one of the most unpleasant and sinister we have encountered.
“Even with the expertise of our highly skilled surgical team, it was impossible to do anything for this unfortunate bird except put it to sleep as the arrow had passed completely through its abdomen. Removal of the arrow was impossible as the injuries were far too severe.”
Any person who witnessed this incident or who has any further information is urged to contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting reference SXP-20130609-1099 or Seahaven Bird Rescue on 01273 252820.