ANGLERS and residents have been left furious after eight water birds were found dead following reports of an airgun being fired into an Astley Bridge pond.

The pond, used as a fishing lodge by the Bolton Co-op Angling Club, is close to Asda, and near Old Road and Hillview Road.

Bill Fox, who has been chairman of the club periodically for 20 years, said last Thursday, anglers had reported hearing pellets fired from nearby and seeing them hit the water.

He explained that there had been a lot of waterfowl in the pond but very few were left and the carcasses of two goslings, six ducks, magpies, crows and a pigeon had been found around the area since last week.

Mr Fox said: “It’s wholesale slaughter, mindless violence.

“We have found dead birds and some that are not well enough to fly. It’s just sick, I can’t understand it at all.

“We have spent thousands on this pond, we have rebuilt all the banks, put all the reed beds in and installed a floating island to give the birds somewhere to live.”

Members of the club initially thought the birds may have been poisoned by a substance in the water.

However, a representative from the Environment Agency, said: “A member of the public reported blue green algae near to Astley Bridge, Bolton.

“Environmental Officers investigated and took water samples. These have been analysed and results show this was not blue green algae but normal lake Phytoplankton. This does not pose a hazard to human or animal health.”

Andrew Capstick, aged 57, used to feed the waterfowl every day.

He said: “I came on Saturday morning to feed them and that’s when I was told there had been an issue with the ducks.

“I’m fuming, I was angry and I was really sad because they are like my babies.

“I come to feed them properly with bird feed because bread can kill them and pollute the water.”

The police have been called in relation to the reports.