DUCKS introduced to brighten up a harbour have been removed to safety, after several of them were mysteriously decapitated.
Members of Edenderry's Tidy Towns committee in Co Offaly were horrified to discover the heads of mallard and donated farmyard ducks at the harbour along the Grand Canal.
Independent Cllr Noel Cribbin said 22 of the 40 ducks were gone and a number of heads had been found around the harbour in the town in recent days.
"Since the ducks were introduced to the harbour some years ago they have brought nothing only happiness and contentment from the dozens of kids, parents and grandparents who have come to feed them over the years," said Cllr Cribbin.
He is convinced the birds were decapitated with a sharp implement as there was no sign of any animal marks on the heads, and the rest of the ducks were missing.
Cllr Cribbin said the animals were very tame. "The farmyard duck can't fly, so he is a sitting duck – literally."
Local wildlife enthusiasts Frank Harding and Willie McCreanor spent months incubating, rearing and feeding the ducks.
"They are sick to the pit of their stomachs that all their hard work to build up the wildlife family has been wiped out," added Cllr Cribbin.
The remaining ducks will now be removed from the harbour, explained Cllr Cribbin.
He said anyone with information in relation to the killings can contact him in confidence or the gardai in Edenderry, who have been made aware of the situation.