A man from the UK has killed a heron in order to save a duckling that had just been eaten.
The incident, which took place in Pwllheli in Wales, involved an elderly man who reportedly shot the heron dead with an air gun, then cut it open to retrieve the duckling.
“You couldn’t make this up,” the North Wales Police’s Rural Crime Team said on Twitter.
“Strangely he actually did rescue the duckling alive from the dead heron's stomach. But obviously, he was then left with a dead heron.”
The story seems to have snowballed slightly, though, with quite a lot of information getting mixed up on the way. The man was not arrested, nor was he an animal rights protestor, as has been misreported. He was, however, said to be “vulnerable”, and confessed voluntarily to the action, which took place back in 2017, although it has only just been revealed.
According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK, all birds are protected by law. The penalty for killing a heron can be a fine of up to £5,000 ($7,000) or up to six months in prison. On this occasion, the man was simply released with a caution.
This caused a little bit of a fuss on Twitter, with some asking why he was not fined or imprisoned as the law states.
“Give these people something to really stop them,” one person wrote. “What will he kill next?”
Another said the act was “cruel and cowardly.”
In a video tweet update, the Rural Crime Team said decisions like these are made both on the incident itself and previous convictions. As the elderly man had none, in this case, the decision was made to proceed with just a caution.
“These decisions are never taken lightly and a number of factors are addressed," North Wales Police said. "This was a vulnerable elderly man, who confessed voluntarily to the action with no previous convictions.”
Obviously, if you happen to witness a similar event, we recommend you don't attempt any heroics, just contact your local wildlife center or the police.