WELL-meaning animal lovers are being urged to stop feeding a group of young swans to encourage them to move to a safer environment.

The RSPCA says a group of young swans on Whitby beach are being "killed with kindness".

Claire Little, an inspector for the charity, said: “It is lovely that people are taking such an interest in these beautiful birds and trying to give them food – but they are at real risk of not learning how to cope by themselves. We’re very concerned for these swans, who are currently in danger of potentially being killed with kindness.

“We are urging the public not to feed or interact with these wild animals as they are losing their natural wariness of humans.

“Whitby beach is lovely, but it’s the wrong place for these vulnerable swans. The beach gets very busy and is popular with dog-walkers. One of the swans has already been attacked by a dog, so while the birds are still on the beach, we’d really like dogs to be kept on leads.

“While the swans continue to be fed by the public, there’s no incentive for them to move themselves to a safer, more appropriate location where they can relearn their natural behaviour and find their own food. Bread is not appropriate food for swans; instead, they should be foraging in lakes and streams for aquatic vegetation, molluscs and small fish, frogs and worms.

“We understand that it may feel hard not to feed them, but the kindest thing we can do for these gorgeous birds is to leave them alone, which will encourage them to move on. If we all work together, we can make sure all these swans have a safe, natural future.”

Anyone with concerns for a wild animal, is asked to call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.