A dog walker was devastated to find a young swan mauled to death at The Basins in Wellington.

The body of the creature was found with apparent bite marks lying in an area strewn with feathers near benches, close to an area where people park to walk their dogs.

The dog walker said the injuries appear consistent with an attack by a large dog, rather than a fox.

The incident has been reported to Avon and Somerset Police and the witness was told it would be recorded as a rural crime.

The visitor said she had seen around eight swans from two families which had made their home at the beauty spot in recent times. The witness said when she discovered the swan's body there were only four other swans in the area.

The dog walker, who found the dead bird on Friday morning ,said: "I just went down there early this morning and I was greeted with this carnage.

"You can see from the photographs that it was clearly not a quick death for that swan.

"It must have been incredibly traumatic for anyone who saw it. Most people have their dogs on leads, but some people think it is OK not to, so they let their dogs off the lead.

"I would imagine it was a big dog involved in this. You see people with large dogs who can't even hold their dog on a lead very well.

"There probably needs to be some CCTV here, the swans are an endangered species and they need to be looked after.

"We are really privileged to be able to go down there and see so many swans altogether in one place.

"I would like to see a large sign in place saying don't feed the swans or ducks. People go up to them and feed bread to them, which is terrible for them."

Dead swan at The Basins in Wellington
Dead swan at The Basins in Wellington (Submitted)

There have been up to 11 swans reported at The Basins this year on its two ponds, in addition to hundreds of ducks and a large number of moorhens.

The record number is believed to be due to the success of the birds breeding, with some of the young swans staying on instead of leaving to find a new home.

The area around The Basins is outside the land being leased to the town council, as that parcel of land starts beyond the gate leading to Rockwell Green.

The Basins is looked after and maintained by members of the Wellington Basins Volunteer Group (WBVG) who preserve and conserve what was once a neglected and overgrown area of land and backwaters.

Dead swan at The Basins in Wellington
Dead swan at The Basins in Wellington (Submitted)

WBVG members have been working since 1978 at The Basins to keep the area looking good.

Visitors are advised not to feed the birds bread, but to use wildfowl food which can be obtained from a coffee van in the area.

As well as the swans, ducks, and moorhens, The Basins is home to a wide variety of other bird life, including coots, kingfishers, wagtails, reed buntings, dippers, and owls, plus wildlife such as rabbits, squirrels, foxes, and five different types of bat.

Avon and Somerset Police has been asked for a comment.