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Swan shootings still rising, says Royal official
ATTACKS on swans, including shootings, have continued to rise in the last year, Royal conservationists have reported.
Ahead of the annual census of the swan population next week officials also say that flooding is likely to have severely hit the number of baby swans born this year.
A virus which killed many birds in 2011 completes a combination of bad news for the birds.
The Queen's Royal Swan Uppers will take to the River Thames next week expecting a low figure of cygnets after May's floods which swept nests away.
See videos below for last year's Swan Upping.
And David Barber, The Queen’s Swan Marker, has reported a virus which killed many birds in 2011 led to a 20 per cent reduction in last year's cygnet numbers.
Last year there were some horrific reports of attacks on the birds, with some being shot.
Mr Barber said: “Vandalism remains a constant threat to swan numbers and is one of the primary causes of fatalities among mute swans and young cygnets together with fishing tackle injuries.
“The number of vandal attacks has continued to increase over the past year.
“Shootings with air rifles and catapults cause horrific injuries, unnecessary suffering and slow deaths.”
The swan population on the Thames suffered a severe attack of duck virus enteritis in early 2011 with numerous breeding pairs lost.
Mr Barber said: “The impact of this disease on the number of cygnets counted during Swan Upping 2011 was a 20 per cent reduction compared to 2010 which was extremely disappointing.
“This year, there has been an increase in the number of nesting pairs reported.
“However, the floods we experienced on the Thames in May will again have a serious effect on the number of cygnets born, as the high water and fast flowing stream resulted in many nests being washed away.”
The traditional event, which aims to monitor the health of swans along the river and attend to any sick creatures, will reach Bucks on Tuesday.
Swan Uppers will set off from the Compleat Angler Hotel in Marlow on Wednesday morning in their distinctive skiffs.
The birds are lifted to be weighed by the Royal officials, dressed in red, or 'upped'.
Schoolchildren are invited to the morning ceremonies before the Swan Uppers set off and Mr Barber said education is important to appreciate the birds and wildlife in general.
Schools seeking further information should contact the Swan Marker's office on +44 (0)1628 523030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.