Animal rights party the PvdD has stirred up a storm of protest after it suggested that hunters may have wrung the necks of a family of swans at the weekend.
The bodies of two adult birds and five cygnets were found in Alphen aan den Rijn on Saturday afternoon. Local animal ambulance co-ordinator Ginet Groep described it as ‘sheer murder’, adding: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it in 20 years.’
But after provincial councillor Bart Canton said the PvdD had ‘not ruled out’ that hunters were responsible, hunting community spokesman Hans Dannenberg hit back angrily, accusing the party of a ‘witch-hunt’.
‘Of course the bulk of hunters don’t do this kind of thing, but history shows that not all hunters play by the rules,’ said Canton. ‘This wasn’t all hunters, but an individual, and it is not impossible that it was a hunter.’
Danneberg said it was ‘very unlikely’ that a hunter was responsible, pointing out that as they are allowed to shoot the birds during the hunting season, there was no reason to kill them in such an underhand way.
‘It feels like a witch-hunt against hunters,’ said Dannenberg, who is chairman of the regional hunting club. ‘It is an extremely serious matter to accuse somebody of wringing the necks of seven swans… We observe the law.’
Wim van den Assum, from the provincial wildlife management division, also cast doubt on the theory. ‘A farmer, as has been suggested, isn’t a logical option. Swans don’t cause a nuisance at this time of year…. Perhaps a disturbed individual killed them somewhere else and dumped them.’
The incident has been reported to police.