Horrendous cruelty and suffering for swans over the weekend in Sussex

Swans in East Sussex had a rough ride over the weekend with Wildlife Rescuers needing to rescue one swan which had been shot in the head, a dog attacked swan, a road casualty swan and one which kids were attempting to kick.

The four incidents have infuriated the volunteer rescuers which have had to pick up the pieces.

Saturday afternoon Trevor Weeks, founder of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) was called down to Langney Pond in Eastbourne after a swan became trapped in bushes after being chased off by the resident pair of swans. Local residents reported kids trying to kick the swan so it was decided best to free the swan from the bushes and relocate. When releasing the swan at Princes Park in Eastbourne, Trevor spotted a swan with a swelling on the side of its head. A major rescue operation was then undertaken involving 5 rescuers. New rescuer Arron Banks sailed out on a small inflatable boat whilst Trevor using a dry suit waded out. The others rescuers helped from the bank. The swan was cornered by the inlet and was eventually caught.

"On examining the swan there was a clear entry and exit wound so we decided to rush the swan to the vets for further assessment" said Trevor, "at the vets the x-ray revealed damage to the swan’s head, so the swan was placed on a drip for the night and transported up to the National Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton in Surrey for specialist veterinary care."

Early Sunday morning WRAS was called to Kingsway Hove near Hove Lagoon, about a swan which had been run over. Sussex Police looked after the swan saving it from further injury until WRAS Rescuer Tony Neads arrived on site. "The swan was in a bad way and needed veterinary attention quickly so we took the swan to Coastway Vets for emergency treatment" said Tony. This swan was also delivered up to the Swan Santuary at Shepperton for specialist care.

Sunday afternoon, Trevor was called to attend Hove Lagoon after a report of a collapsed swan in the lagoon. The swan was very lethargic, unable to stand and dribbling. Trevor with the help of one of the local RSPCA Animal Collection Officers caught the swan and examined it on the grass. The swan was rushed in for veterinary care but died shortly after arrival. An examination of the swan showed the swan had typical marks of a dog attacked swan.

"This is the third swan at Hove Lagoon which WRAS has had to rescue in the last few years as a result of the lagoon being drained and dogs being able to jump in and chase after and attack the swans" said Trevor Weeks, "it is damn right cruel to let your dog cause suffering in this way. Personally I wish the swans did not stay at the lagoon as it is just not safe for them, but people feed them and they now won’t fly off as a result when the lagoon is drained. However, the blame for this swan being killed has to lay squarely with the dog owner, if you can’t control your dog then it should not be off the lead - simple."

When asked about how Trevor felt about the swan casualties over the weekend Trevor replied, "I am sick and tired of picking up the pieces where humans get some sick pleasure out of abusing wildlife. Honestly what pleasure do you get out of shooting a swan - these people must be sick! WRAS volunteers are running around left, right and centre and I can only take my hat off to them for all the volunteer hours they put in clearing up after irresponsible people. The other day a gentleman complained about us raising money for wildlife rescue at a supermarket saying "what about the children" - this really annoys me because as far as I am concerned cruelty is cruelty, whether it is cruelty against children, adults, pets, farm animals or wildlife - and I personnally support several charities which fight this cruelty in humans as well as animals. When will it stop!"

So far during 2008 WRAS has been called to 8 cat attacked casualties, 3 dog attacked casualties, 5 casualties entangled or trapped in netting and other materials like fishing line, 1 bird stabbed by a human, 3 shot casualties, 11 road casualties, over 100 calls to oiled birds, as well as over 100 other casualties which are difficult to know whether they have been caused by humans activity.

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Press Contacts: Trevor Weeks, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958 (private) - National Swan Sanctuary, 01932 240790

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