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Appeal launched to help save Bewick’s swans

by Rhiannon James

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credit: WWT/ Paul Marshall

An appeal has been launched by The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust to help protect threatened Bewick’s swans.

The tired and hungry swans are currently arriving in large numbers on WWT sites at Slimbridge, Welney on the Ouse Washes and Arundel following an exhausting and danger-filled 2,500 mile journey from their breeding grounds in Arctic Russia.

Money raised will be used to feed the swans, to restore them to health –particularly by funding health checks, x-rays and protective swan jackets and to tackle the threats the swans face during migration.

The swans’ journey is made more hazardous by hunters who target them despite their protected status in every one of the countries they fly through. WWT research over the last 40 years has found that almost a quarter of birds have been shot. It has also found that almost a quarter of Bewick’s swan deaths are caused by lead poisoning after birds have ingested spent gunshot with the grit they use for digestion.

Support for the swans is very important as numbers in the Northwest European population have declined significantly from the mid-1990s – from 29,000 to less than 20,000.

Some good news for the swans is that they have enjoyed their best breeding season this year since 2001; at Slimbridge, Everton and his new mate Rovers have returned to the UK with six cygnets – the largest Bewick’s swan family ever recorded there.

To donate, visit www.wwt.org.uk/swans

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