Swan rescues can be misguided

Whilst I fully appreciate the valuable work volunteers do within the community, I read the aforementioned article with growing disbelief at the ill-informed actions of the so called experts of animal rescue.

I have worked with swans for 8 years. I do not claim to be an expert, though I have built up an understanding of these beautiful birds that I fear has not been taken into account in this instance. Firstly no animal, regardless of circumstance, is worth risking hypothermia or worse for in it’s rescue. Secondly, you must have a sound understanding of the subject, and it’s habits.

The subject in question is a male mute swan who is in his prime. Although at first glance he appears to be seriously injured, he has in fact got very minor injuries which have occurred through a territorial battle of supremacy with another male (cob) swan. This is the time of year when male swans begin to set out their territory, and they will defend it with the utmost aggression to any strange male who trespasses into their area. This one decided to take on the dominant male, who has been there for a number of years. The fight for dominance is extremely vicious, where the victor sets out to climb the back of the loser and drown his rival. Injuries to the beak are common during these battles. However they generally heal within 3-4 days, and are not considered life-threatening.

The ignorance comes when well-meaning, but ill-informed people remove the male. The male swan is the sole protector of the family unit. Remove the male and you consign his mate, and subsequent cygnets to certain death. They will almost surely be killed by another male or by a fox. Therefore, in rescues such as these, if you are going to remove the male from his territory it is imperative that you also remove the family unit too for their continued safety.

Ted Harding

Salehurst, Robertsbridge