Police called in as dog mauls swans in estuary
A DOG attacked at least two swans next to the Crabshell Inn, Kingsbridge, on Sunday night.
The dog was in the estuary at around 8pm, swimming in the shallow puddles. Local resident Stephen Akam-Smith went down to try to catch it with a lead, believing the dog was a stray.
'A guy sat out at the front of the Crabshell said it was his dog,' said Stephen, 'so I went back to the house. Then at around 10pm there was loads of barking and a kerfuffle and the dog attacked one of the swans.
'My wife called the police, as lots of people at the pub were yelling at the guy to go and get his dog, by which point the dog had got hold of another swan. He definitely got two, possibly three.
'The police arrived very quickly and dealt with the owner as he was coming out of the estuary, having finally caught hold of his dog.'
Stephen and his wife Susanne went looking for the swans that evening, but it was too dark. They resumed their search the following morning and found one by Tacket Wood.
The couple, who live at Crabshell Quay, called the RSPCA and an inspector came to collect the injured swan on Monday morning and took it to the vet.
'We stayed with the swan until the RSPCA arrived to rescue it. It was bleeding profusely and appeared to have broken wings and legs,' said Stephen. 'We're dog owners and animal lovers ourselves and we're livid. To see these beautiful swans attacked was heart-breaking.'
Sgt Dave Green of Kingsbridge Police said: 'It seems that two swans were attacked by a dog, believed to be a springer spaniel. It isn't believed that either swan was killed. Details were taken for a crime report and the owner of the dog was spoken to at the scene.'
As native wild birds, swans enjoy statutory protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to intentionally injure, take or kill a wild swan.
According to the RSPB: 'The swan population in the UK has increased recently, perhaps due to better protection of this species. The problem of lead poisoning on lowland rivers has also largely been solved by a ban on the sale of lead fishing weights.
'Some birds stay in their territories all year, while others move short distances and form winter flocks.'
The RSPB advises anyone who sees an injured swan to call the RSPCA. It points out that swans are very attentive parents, so 'a young lone cygnet may mean that something is amiss.
'Young cygnets are very vulnerable, so if you find one that you are absolutely sure is orphaned, put it safely into a cardboard box that contains a clean cloth [and contact the RSPCA on 03001 234999]'.
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