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