When attending a rescue situation, initial assessment is a priority. In most cases there will be someone waiting at the scene (often the person who reported the incident); ask for a history of what occurred, and what the person’s main concerns are. Look around to make sure that the area and the situation that you face are safe, and take appropriate actions to maintain the same.
IT MUST BE REMEMBERED THAT SWANS OFTEN GET INTO PROBLEMS AROUND HIGH VOLTAGE CABLES. RAILWAY LINES AND MOTORWAYS – All rescuers should make sure that they know all the relevant safety procedures and who to contact in such an event.
Water based rescues are ALWAYS potentially dangerous, and boat users etc should be fully competent and properly equipped. NON SWIMMERS SHOULD NOT VENTURE ONTO OR INTO WATER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, and should wear a life jacket when working bank-side.
IF IN DOUBT regards ANY rescue attempt. .. summon assistance and do NOT be tempted to “give it a go” for fear of “losing face”. . you may lose much more!
Rescuers should not use any specialist equipment. i.e. climbing gear. unless properly trained to do so.
As with all wildlife casualties, the objective is to rescue the swan(s) as quickly as possible – whilst `causing the minimum amount of distress to the birds concerned – and the following points should be borne in mind.
Resist the temptation to use ancillary tools to capture swans whenever possible i.e. Swan hooks’ and nets – manual control of the bird(s) are the least stressful and have less potential to cause injury to the casualty. Also many swans are extremely wary of poles/rods and will be forewarned of your intentions to catch them.
Do NOT chase mobile birds around – the stress and exhaustive effects of such actions could lead to the death of an already sick bird – rather GUIDE the swan gently into a situation where it can be captured easily – a favoured approach on open water is to gradually `push’ the bird on with a boat, encouraging it to take refuge in a reed bed etc.
Initial control of a swan can be safely effected by catching hold of the birds neck – WITH DUE CONCERN FOR POSSIBLE NECK INJURIES APPARENT OR OTHERWISE. – Then transfer control of the bird to its wings, holding them close to the swan body. Do not lift the bird by its neck or legs unless forced to by local conditions.
NOTE AT THIS POINT THAT ALL SWAN RESCUERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN TRAINED IN HANDLING TECHNIQUES BACK AT THEIR BASE BEFORE ATTEMPTING ‘FIELD WORK’.