Matthew Steeples highlights that not only the appalling case of two swans and five cygnets being shot in Kent but also other problems facing these majestic birds
This summer, on The Serpentine in Hyde Park, I witnessed a Chinese tourist attempting to hug a swan. Though I told him how unacceptable this truly was, he simply shrugged his shoulders (he plainly couldn’t speak a word of English) and attempted to carry on. Though hindered by one of my arm being in a sling, in a slightly wingless fashion, I managed to pull him away and the majestic yet wrongly targeted bird waddled off into the water.
Yesterday, an even more shocking case of “swan abuse” was sadly highlighted with news that that two swans and five cygnets had been found wrapped in plastic bags and thrown in a stream in Benenden, Kent. After X-rays of the birds were taken it was revealed that these innocent creatures were peppered with pellets and thus victims of what an RSPCA inspector, Dave Grant, termed an “absolutely disgusting” attack.
Given that virtually all swans in England and Wales are owned by the Queen, it has been suggested that the birds were targeted due to their association with royalty. Stephen Knight of the Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton, Middlesex remarked:
“The reason they pick on swans is because it is widely know that they belong to the Crown, so they are a symbol of the establishment.”
“The kind of people who do this are faceless bullies that have got no moral compass. Someone once posted a gag that was titled ‘how to upset the Queen.’ It included a picture of a gun and swan, which was locked in a cage. After that we saw a little spike in shootings.”
Elsewhere, it has been revealed that the “Bin the Bread” campaign to stop people feeding swans bread has resulted in many of the birds now being underweight. In comments to The Telegraph, the Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber, Member of the Royal Victorian Order, remarked stated “there is no good reason” not to feeds swans bread. He remarked that many now wander the roads and put themselves in further danger whilst looking for food and added:
“Supporters of the campaign claim that bread should not be fed to swans on the grounds that it is bad for them. This is not correct. Swans have been fed bread for many hundreds of years without causing any ill effects.”
“While bread may not be the best dietary option for swans compared to their natural food such as river weed, it has become a very important source of energy for them, supplementing their natural diet and helping them to survive the cold winter months when vegetation is very scarce.”
“There is no good reason not to feed bread to swans, provided it is not mouldy.”
“Most households have surplus bread and children have always enjoyed feeding swans with their parents.”