British police have issued a warning after wild birds in a treasured village pond were shot dead, apparently with an air rifle.

The attack claimed several ducks, geese and a moorhen in the village of Hartley Wintney, 55 miles (88 kilometers) southwest of London. Police said Saturday the "disgusting" attack by an unknown number of people targeted birds at a duck pond that has been at the heart of village life for generations.

Ponds provide a tranquil centerpiece for many English villages and are often particularly attractive in the spring, when flowers, bushes and trees are in bloom.

Hampshire police said most of the birds in the pond had been slain by an air rifle or similar weapon in violation of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.