Feathered fiend! – Vicious swan attacks rowers on the River Cam


A vicious swan dubbed ”Mr Asbo” who attacked terrified rowers on the peaceful River Cam last summer is back with a vengeance.

Rowers are calling for the removal of the angry bird which has been terrorising canoeists, rowers and motorists on the Cam near the Green Dragon pub in Chesterton, Cambridge.

Last summer the wild beast targeted dozens of boaters on the Cam in Fen Ditton, Cambs., from single scullers up to teams of eight and even capsized one canoeist.

Terrified river users are now insisting that the swan be removed from the river before it causes serious injury.

President of the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association, Bill Key, has called for Conservators of the River Cam to ”remove the offending bird”.

He added: ”The swan situation is most serious and someone is going to be badly injured or worse – indeed a number of injuries have already occurred.”

Ashley Sparkes, 27, and his daughter Madison, seven, were beseiged by Mr Asbo as they as they paddled their inflatable dinghy along the Cam.

Ashley said: ”Madison was really scared. We were attacked twice. The second time we were not even close to him.

”We were about 200m away when he took off from the water and came at us, full speed, flapping his wings.”

But despite their ordeal, Mr Sparkes did not want the swan removed. He added: ”It’s his river after all. We’ll just have to do our best to avoid him.”

Her Majesty’s Warden of the Swans, Oxford academic Dr Christopher Perrins, said that any request to remove the swan would have to go through the monarch.

He said: ”First they speak to us as the Queen has the right to ownership of any swan.

”If, and I am sure this will be the case, she declines ownership then they must approach Natural England to get a licence to do anything.

”That would have the effect of discouraging its aggressive behaviour. We get two or three such cases a year.

”It certainly seems in this case, if he is attacking bigger boats, that he might have to be moved for his own safety and for that of other river users.”

Dr Perrins added that the swan could be moved or alternatively clipping one of its wings causing it to be thrown off balance when it launched an attack.

The conservators’ deputy manager Jonathon Wakefield said discussions were taking place about whether the swan could be removed.

He said: ”We are liaising with various governing bodies to see what the options are. We have not heard back yet what is possible.

”The standard line is it should not be moved at this time of year when they are starting to nest, but as people are complaining perhaps that is going to change.”

Grahame Madge, spokeman for the RSPB, said that the swan was simply trying to protect its territory from intruders.

He said: ”The simple explanation is that we are now in the full swing of the breeding season and swans are highly terratorial during Spring and Summer.

”Normally their behaviour is to alert other swans but sometimes they are a bit too pumped up with testosterone they will try to evict anything that comes into their territory.

”Sometimes their behaviour is a little on the excessive side so anything that comes at them on the water treated as a potential threat.

”As with all species at this time, people should just give them a wide berth. They are just protecting their own.”


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