COPS were yesterday hunting a gang of sick thugs who bludgeoned a swan to death using a club studded with nails.

A horrified passer-by saw the yobs lure the swan from a stretch of water using bread before beating it and hurling it into the back of a van.

It is the third attack on a swan in Lincoln in the last six months.

Charlotte Childs, of the local RSPCA, said: “The only thing we can think of is they’re being killed to be eaten, but it could have been just an attack for fun. It’s horrific.”

She added: “Swans mate for life so there will be another out there pining for its mate.”

Lincolnshire police are trying to trace a black van with a registration number that starts FS06.