Swans covered in oil dumped into River Welland near Peterborough taken to RSPCA wildlife centre

Swans covered in oil which was dumped into the River Welland near Peterborough have been taken to an RSPCA wildlife centre for treatment.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 4:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 4:48 pm
Some of the rescued swans at the wildlife centre. Photo: RSPCA

Around 25 swans in the river, which is adjacent to Deeping Lakes in Deeping St James, have been affected.

The distressing discovery was made by a dog walker yesterday morning (Tuesday).

The Environment Agency (EA) and RSPCA were called to the site, with five 25 litre oil drums thought to have been dumped from the bridge in Peakirk.

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One of the rescued swans. Photo: RSPCA

The EA installed oil booms (high strength floating barriers) and used boats to collect what is believed to be waste engine oil.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust said there was more than 7km of polluted rivers.

The stretch of affected river runs between Peakirk and Crowland.

The RSPCA said: “Specialist RSPCA water rescue and wildlife officers are at the River Welland adjacent to Deeping Lakes Nature Reserve in Lincolnshire after several drums of oil were dumped.

A swan covered in oil in the River Welland. Photo: Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

“Staff first attended yesterday (Tuesday, April 30) along with the Environment Agency after we received reports of oiled birds.

“Around 25 swans have been affected. Three swans have been caught so far today and are being transferred to RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre for treatment.

“Many of the birds are still able to fly but we will continue to rescue as many of those contaminated over the coming days as possible.

“If you see a bird who you think needs our help please call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.”

According to the Swan Lifeline charity, if the swan tries to clean itself and ingests the oil it will poison them and can be fatal.

The oil also causes swans to lose their waterproofing on their feathers which can cause difficulty being on water.

The Environment Agency said: “We’ve been working closely with the RSPCA and other partners following reports on Tuesday, April 30 about a quantity of oil which has been found in the River Welland on the Cambridgeshire/Lincolnshire border near Market Deeping.

“Our teams have used booms and boats in the clean-up and are assisting the RSPCA in rescuing and caring for a number of swans and other birds which have been affected.

“No one wants to see wildlife and their habitats suffer as a result of pollution which is why we work so hard to prevent it and hold to account those who cause it.

“If you have any information about his incident, please call us on our incident hotline 0800 80 70 60 or Crimestoppers UK 0800-555111.”