Swan’s des­per­ate plight raises fears of oil pol­lu­tion in river

Surrey Advertiser - - Front Page - The Swan at the WAF hos­pi­tal

A SWAN is re­cov­er­ing af­ter it was dragged from a river coated in cook­ing oil.

The bird was spot­ted strug­gling in wa­ters near Stoke Road in Cob­ham by a bus driver, who called the Leather­head-based Wildlife Aid Foun­da­tion (WAF) for as­sis­tance.

But it was only when the res­cue team ap­proached the swan they re­alised it was drenched in cook­ing oil – spark­ing con­cerns of it be­ing il­le­gally dumped in the River Mole. Res­cuers took the in­jured bird to the WAF wildlife hos­pi­tal, a cen­tre ded­i­cated to the res­cue and care of in­jured wild an­i­mals.

WAF founder Si­mon Cow­ell, who was on the scene when the res­cue took place, said the swan was re­leased days later af­ter re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at the hos­pi­tal.

“The pa­tient was brought back to the cen­tre where our nurses gen­tly cleaned it with mild de­ter­gent,” he said. “Af­ter a week, it was re­leased on a nearby stretch of the river.”

Mr Cow­ell went on to say he be­lieved the cook­ing oil that came into con­tact with the swan must had been dumped in the River Mole.

“When we got there, the swan had not moved and was clearly in some dis­tress,” he said.

“The rea­son be­came ap­par­ent when I han­dled it. The poor thing was cov­ered in cook­ing oil, which I sus­pect had been dumped in the river.”

While there have been no fur­ther re­ports of af­fected birds, Mr Cow­ell said con­tact with oil can have a po­ten­tial fa­tal im­pact on wa­ter­fowl.

“Wa­ter­fowl and oil do not mix,” he said. “Oily birds can­not preen, their feath­ers be­come mat­ted and they lose their wa­ter­proof­ing.”

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