Three teenagers have been arrested after a swan was stolen from a pond, then cooked and eaten.
Police said the ‘much loved’ mother swan, called Faye, and her four cygnets went missing from their pond in the village of Manlius, in New York state, on Saturday.
After an appeal to find the missing birds was released, a resident spotted two of the cygnets in a shop in nearby Salina and called the police, Manlius police Sergeant Ken Hatter said.
One of the suspects, who worked at the store, confessed to taking part in the crime, along with the two other teenagers, police said.
The remaining two swans were found at the first suspect’s home, over 11 miles away in the city of Syracuse, they said.
Three teenagers were arrested on Tuesday on charges including grand larceny and criminal mischief in connection with the “swan-napping”, Sgt. Hatter said.
Faye was “brought to an aunt’s house and the aunt prepared it,” and the swan was then eaten.
“The mother swan was consumed, sad to say, but that’s what they did,” Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall said on Wednesday.
For over a decade, Faye and Manny made them Manlius village pond their home, and each spring hatched and raised cygnets.
In 2010, they were donated by biologist and self-described “swan guru” Michael Bean.
Hunting swans is legal in a few US states but not in New York.
“The swans have been a part of this village for well over 100 years,” Mr Whorrall said. “We’re known for our swans.”
The village of Manlius has a swan insignia on its website, as well as on merchandise like hats and T-shirts.
Two of the suspects, aged 16 and 17, were released to their parents because they are under age, police said.
The third, who is 18, is waiting for their first appearance in court.