(Photo from petition by Laurie Arbuthnot/Change.org)

A petition to ban hunting near the Cowichan River Estuary has acquired over 22,000 signatures after a swan was shot and left for dead earlier this month.

Cowichan Bay resident Laurie Arbuthnot started the petition to the Cowichan Valley Regional District after a hunter shot at a pair of swans on November 13.

In it Arbuthnot writes about how the estuary is an internationally designated Important Bird Area (IBA) and hosts vast numbers of rare migratory and year round birds like Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, as s many varieties of ducks, geese and song birds.

Walking trails at the estuary make bird-watching available for all, but the petition argues their proximity to hunting areas ruin the experience and frighten visitors.

“The community shudders every time the blasts are heard,” writes Arbuthnot.

“But the final straw was on November 13th 2020 a beautiful pair of Swans had taken flight only for one to be shot and not killed but coming to the ground by the walking trail.”

The petition notes that the hunter did not check on the injured swan, but birders in the area took quick action and transported it to a recovery centre where it is expected to make a recovery.

“It was an act of sickening, malicious destruction. Pictured are the exact pair moments before the shots were fired.”

Arbuthnot goes on to call for a ban on hunting in the area surrounding Cowichan River Estuary to “protect all the wildlife” in the region.

Since its creation, the petition has garnered over 22,800 signatures.

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