Swans need our extra care now.

I know that this is not on our water but the same lesson needs to be borne in mind.

At Symonds Yat on Friday, a seriously underweight female swan, was found begging for food whilst it had a lot of strong line protruding from its beak.

After several attempts to catch the swan by hand, rope and net we thought it would not clear off for good but extreme hunger kept it returning for a few more bread crumbs. For 30 minutes or so, hunger repeatedly overcame its wariness, and the swan came closer until we managed to catch it. The bird was so week if put up little no resistance. A closer look showed the hook to be too far down its throat to be reached with a disgorger. The RSPA would have taken too long to respond so we took the bird directly to an wild animal rescue / hospital near Tewkesbury. A quick investigation by one of the vets proved it was impossible to reach the hook with their special tube designed to extract hooks, and the swan was ‘kept in’ and underwent a small operation to remove the hook. 

Two hooks were found and removed. 

What it takes for a swan to break off a 15 lb line anchored deep in its throat is almost unimaginable. To have to do it twice is unthinkable. 

Latest news is that the swan is recovering well and feeding for England and Wales. We expect to collect the swan and return the bird to its home water next week.

A swan will not normally be able to reach a bait legered on the bottom of the river, so, it points to baited hooks being left unattended or unobserved beside the river, or in shallow water. 

This lesson is an simple one to remember.

Swans, and most water birds on the Wye, are now starving which overcomes their usual caution in approaching people, particularly anglers, which means we should all be extra careful with baited hooks. 

Why not treat the swans to your leftover soft bait when you finish your days fishing? It might  make the difference enabling one or two birds being able to survive the coming winter.

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