THE RSPCA has made a renewed appeal for witnesses after a woman strangled a swan to death in a County Durham park.

Police and the animal welfare charity were contacted by a member of the public who saw the swan being attacked by a woman in Riverside Park, Chester-le-Street, at about 7pm on Thursday May 30.

Police were initially called by a member of the public who saw a woman grab the swan, straddle the bird and wring its neck.

Officers attended the scene where they found the adult swan dead - with a soft tissue injury consistent with being strangled - and spoke to two women in connection with the incident.

An RSPCA spokesperson said: "Many people have understandably been extremely shocked and saddened by the incident in Chester le Street in which a swan was violently killed.

"Our investigation remains ongoing and we are continuing to urge anyone who was in the park on Thursday evening at around 7pm to contact us.

"Anyone who saw what happened or has any information about the people involved can contact our appeal line on 0300 123 8018."

Swans are protected and it’s illegal to kill one of these birds. Anyone caught deliberately trying to injure, kill or take a wild bird without a licence, can face up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.