Swan rescue

Fairford Swan Aid

Swan rescue

Fairford Swan Aid News

Friday 2nd September 2011

The ford or Fairford Beach on the River Coln has once again witnessed a vicious dog attack on a swan - this time a cygnet.

The young cygnet had appeared on the river in the last few weeks on its own which is unusual for such a young bird and so must have become separated from its family somehow. It had teamed up with two young swans and was coping well.

Unfortunately a jack russell attacked it in the water and savaged one of its wings. The dog's owner was on the phone and unaware of what was happening. To her credit, the dog owner did phone us straight away. The cygnet was found cowering in the reeds, obviously in great pain. The cygnet was rushed to the vets but the wing was so badly broken in two places that it had to be put to sleep.

This sad event should never have happened. Dog owners must act responsibly when taking their dogs out for a walk and pay attention to them at all times. When near wildlife of any kind dogs MUST be kept on a lead if they cannot be controlled. Dogs should NEVER be allowed into a river when there are wildfowl close by. After all the river is home to the swans, ducks and other birds.

blackbird dead in line Discarded fishing tackle does not just injure swans. Other wildlife falls foul of anglers' laziness in not retrieving tackle snared on trees, bushes and undergrowth or just leaving it lying around. Bats have been caught in line and many other small birds. Dogs can tread on discarded hooks when out walking with their owners.

The blackbird pictured was seen dangling dead from a tree overhanging the River Coln in Fairford on 25th June 2011. It must have snared its wing on the hook at the end of the line which had caught in the tree when the angler cast out. Imagine how it suffered; repeatedly trying to fly free, its struggles gradually diminishing as it got more and more tired. It did not deserve to die such a death because of a careless fisherman.

Following the horrific dog attack on the swan on 7th April 2011, Swan Aid contacted the National Swan Convention and it is hoped to lobby to give wildlife greater protection from dogs. Swan Aid has written to our MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown about strengthening the Dangerous Dogs Act which is currently under review. In his prompt reply of 11th July, our MP states:

'The issue of dangerous dogs is not solely a problem of dangerous breeds but also one of irresponsible owners. They need to be held to account.'

'Ministers have said the Government is now considering a number of options relating to the control of dangerous dogs and improving responsible dog ownership......I have written to Lord Henley, the Minister responsible for this matter at DEFRA, for his comments on this matter and what steps the Government intends to take to increase the protection of wildlife from dog attacks.'

In April 2011 Swan Aid received a very generous donation from the Fairford Town Charity in recognition of 'the valuable work' we do.

Swan Aid works closely with Horcott Angling Club and were very grateful to receive a donation from them in October 2010 'in appreciation of the work you do'.

Their bailiff, Fred, keeps a constant eye out and there are many rubbish collection bags around for easy disposal of old tackle and other rubbish potentially lethal to wildlife.

We were unable to go to the National Swan Convention on 10th October 2010, but sent a report of which the following is an extract:

So far this year we have had 42 rescues of which 8 have definitely been caused by angling. We have had 6 cases of infected feet and legs through puncture wounds which may have been the result of tackle incidents. There has been an alarming increase in the number of dog attacks and we have rescued 3 swans with horrific wounds and had reports of 2 other attacks. We have had 7 swans on roads or in gardens and 2 definite overhead cable victims.

As there are only 2 of us we find our policy of just dealing with our own local area pays off. Margaret regularly does the rounds checking the swans at various locations which means that she spots many of the ill or injured birds herself. We work closely with Sue at South West Swan Sanctuary in Swindon who looks after all our injured swans. We also now have improved relations with the Oak and Furrows Wildlife Centre in Cirencester (who had amalgamated with Cirencester Swan Rescue).

Publicity wise we have been spreading the word in a new local magazine for Fairford and Lechlade called Ripples and have had 2 articles this year – one on fishing tackle and one on dog attacks on swans. Both were aimed at educating the public to take more care.

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