Elusive swan reluctant to allow help from Newtownabbey wildlife team

Environmental officers are working with an experienced wildlife volunteer in a bid to further treat an elusive male swan at a Newtownabbey recreation area.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 4:57 pm

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council explained the partnership approach after a resident, who spottted the bird with what appeared to be a branch inujury at the V36 park, contacted the Newtownabbey Times to express concern.

The man explained: “I saw a swan with a piece of branch sticking out of it and on further inspection something wrapped round its neck.” He added that “it looks in some distress”.

The local authority confirmed the cob has received treatment and more is planned.

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Council staff and Debbie of Debbie Doolittle’s Wildlife Sanctuary are working to treat the swan.

An Antrim and Newtowanbbey Council spokesperson said: “The council was made aware of the swan several weeks ago and have been working collaboratively with an experienced wildlife volunteer, who was able to restrain the swan and remove the majority of the offending object. What is being reported now appears to be the remainder of the object which was not thought to be causing the swan any distress.

“Following reports this week, the wildlife volunteer and our own enforcement staff are continuing to monitor the swan. Any future action must strike a balance between the stress caused by trying to restrain this wild bird and the potential for further infection or injury caused by the object.”

Speaking to the this newspaper, wildlife volunteer, Debbie of Debbie Doolittle’s Wildlife Sanctuary, said: “We’ve all been trying to catch him for about six weeks now. We’ve used boats, kayaks, long nets and hand nets. The council spent seven hours the other day in boats trying to get him.

“It’s not actually harming him in any way. It just a piece of a branch hanging like a necklace round his neck. It’s free moving and not restricting him. Because it’s tucked under his thick chest feathers, it looks worse than it is, but he is eating, drinking, flying and very strong and fast.

“We are working on more plans to try and get him and it is taking time to get equipment sorted.”

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