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It is true to say that of all potential wildlife patients, Mute swans (Cygnus Olor) are the most amenable to motorised transportation. However, a few simple guidelines are recommended.

The mobility of swans should be restricted during transportation; they should ideally be unable to stand or “flap”, and this can be easily achieved. If both legs are uninjured, they should be lifted back and ABOVE the swan’s tail, and with the “ankles” crossed. Tie the ankles firmly using a wide tape with an element of “give” in it (a ladies nylon stocking is ideally suited to this purpose). The bird should then be placed in a large shopping bag or similar with the neck protruding and the bag closed over the swan’s back. (A sack with one corner cut out will make a good makeshift bag) the bird being fed through the hole.

In the vehicle, the bird should be placed facing forwards or backwards – this is to allow the bird to use its head and neck to counter balance the effects of acceleration and braking. The bird should also be prevented from falling sideways by using pillows or a rolled up blanket to form a “nest”.

If the swan is seriously ill or injured, it may not need to be “tied”. Be aware of what can happen if a casualty suddenly “comes round” during transit, and decides to join you on the driver’s seat whilst on the motorway. It is in fact a requirement of law to make sure that animals are physically separated from the driver of a motor vehicle.

Birds in a “poor” state may need to be covered to prevent excess heat loss, and if collapsed the neck should be extended to facilitate a clear airway.

Similarly, although a fresh airflow should be provided during transit it would be a grave mistake to allow a casualty bird to become chilled by excessive draught

DO NOT SMOKE, PLAY LOUD MUSIC, OR CARRY DOGS OR OTHER ANIMALS WHEN TRANSPORTING WILDLIFE – unless the casualties can be contained in isolation, i.e. behind a fixed sealed bulkhead (this does not mean the boot space of a car). Also do not allow small children to travel with swans, they will NOT keep their fingers to themselves and a sick bird does not need to be poked about.

Be aware of leaking exhaust pipes and over full fuel tanks both of which can cause deadly fumes to enter the vehicle (usually at the back where your casually will be).

The Swan Sanctuary