ANIMAL lovers Josephine Connolly and Nigel Lihou were devastated when they found red paint had leaked into the canal at Pewsey causing a threat to wildlife.

The friends who had both kept an eye on a pair of swans caring for five signets at Pewsey Wharf believe one of them died because of the pollution.

Ms Connolly said: “They started with five cygnets but sadly lost three babies. They were left with two that were 18 days old. But then after the paint spill there was only one. It has broken my heart.”

Mr Lihou, who works at The Wharf, said: “The boater responsible for the leak reported it but said it was only a cup of paint. I think it was much more than that.

“There were ducks with red paint on their feathers. I saw the two remaining signets an hour before the leak happened on June 12 and then afterwards there was only one. It is very upsetting.”

A spokesman for the Canal & River Trust said: “Overnight a boater inadvertently let a very small amount of paint leak into the canal.

“The next morning, when they realised what had happened, they did the right thing by contacting the Canal & River Trust’s local team.

“Our waterway teams was also immediately dispatched to scoop up the paint and when they arrived they found it was already dissipating due to the rain.

“As far as we are aware there were no wildlife directly affected by this incident and so we were surprised to hear about cygnets possibly being affected.”

In nearby Upavon people have been devastated by the death of a number of geese that are a feature of the village.

Parish councillor Many Wernham believes one adult was run over but there are fears that three babies may have been deliberately hurt.

Villagers are now calling for CCTV to be installed so the geese can be monitored.