THE RSPCA has launched an urgent appeal for information after the shocking killing of two black swans at a golf club.

One of the birds had been savaged by a dog and the other had been shot four times with an air rifle - twice in the neck, once in the belly and once in the leg.

Two other swans at Blundells Hill Golf Club in Rainhill have also disappeared.

A thorough search of the 120-acre site has failed to find them and club staff and players fear they may also have been killed.

The young birds, a gift from Wigan Golf Club were introduced to their new surroundings only around four months ago by RSPCA Chief Inspector Peter Barrett, who is a member of Blundells Hill.

Since their arrival they had thrived.

Chief Inspector Barrett said he thought those responsible, "got a kick out of inflicting pain on animals".

He added: "The players and club staff had taken them to their hearts and were enjoying watching them grow. Everyone here is devastated."

Philip McKie, director of Blundells Hill was disgusted.

"It seems this is their way of taking a day off from mugging old ladies or taking drugs," he said.

"We are getting a lot of people poaching with dogs and hawks at night."

He suggested that these people had cruelly exploited the fact that the birds had their wings clipped and were quite tame.

In an attempt to combat the poachers and yobs, Mr McKie said that security guards have stepped up nighttime patrols around the course.

l The RSPCA can be contacted on 08705 555999. Calls are in confidence and charged at national rate.