Residents of the Rosemoore Lake subdivision in north Gwinnett County were shocked Saturday to find the development’s eight resident swans dead, apparently of gunshot wounds.

“We’re baffled why anyone would want to do that,” said Marilyn King, a longtime resident. “Nobody resented them. They didn’t bother anyone.”

Residents said the dead birds were a mated couple and six young swans, which are called cygnets.

Gwinnett County Police and animal control officers were investigating. Police spokesman Lt. James Flanagan said the cause of death is under investigation, but it does appear the birds were shot to death.

Flanagan said animal control collected the carcases and is attempting to retrieve some of the spent ammunition for investigation by police into possible animal cruelty charges.

According to residents, the swans have been under attack for several years.

“Three years ago someone shot one of the males,” resident Gary Webb said. The following year, two cygnets were killed, he said.

This time every swan in the lake was killed, he said.

“They can’t fly, they can’t do anything. They are harmless animals,” he said. “They are pets.”

They also are expensive. Webb said the cygnets were worth $1,000 apiece while their parents were worth $1,500 each.

Webb said police made no arrests in the prior killings, but he expects a different outcome now.

“They are going to investigate it this time,” he said.

King said most residents in the neighborhood were “thrilled” this spring when the adult swans hatched six babies. When word got out Saturday the swans were dead, King said her neighbors gathered at the lake, saying little.

“Everybody was so shocked and quiet,” she said. “Everybody treated them like they were their personal pets.”

Georgia law classifies most animal cruelty as a misdemeanor, although a felony charge is available for aggravated cases.

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