An aggressive swan dubbed ”Mr Asbo” will not be removed from the River Cam – but will receive counselling to help control his temper.
River authorities applied for the swan to be removed after it attacked rowers last summer and returned this year to cause further havoc on the peaceful waters.
But at a meeting on Thursday in the Guildhall at Cambridge, Conservators of the River Cam took the decision to defer taking action on the swan.
With the 132nd instalment of the historic Cambridge Town Bumps scheduled in two weeks, the navigation authorities have chosen to drop the matter until early next year.
But instead of being removed, the swan will be couselled by river users who will ensure the welfare of the swan and its cygnets to prevent it becoming antagonistic.
Chairman of the Cam Conservators, John Adams, said that the swan was a minor issue in the grander scheme of river life.
He said: ”The Bumps will happen, and rowing will happen. We don’t want to change that, we want to know are there better things we could be doing.”
The Cam Conservators made an application in May to Natural England after first approaching the Queen’s Swan Marker for permission to remove the swan.
Last summer Mr Asbo targeted dozens of boaters in Fen Ditton, on the outskirts of Cambridge, from single scullers up to teams of eight and even capsized one canoeist.
In April he was sighted a mile and a half upriver towards the historic city centre, stepping up his assaults and raising fears tourists and punt users could soon come become targets.
The Conservators consulted with Natural England and other wildlife organisations over the past few months to discuss solutions to the issue.
The swan could be removed to another area in the UK, or it could have its wings clipped to stunt its ability to launch such serious attacks.
Until any permanent decision is take, volunteers will help to manage the swan’s behaviour during rowing events.
Lee Culley, who has lived on a narrowboat in Fen Ditton for ten years, will be one of the people looking after the swan during the upcoming competition.
He said: ”We agreed to look after the swans around the Bumps, after being encouraged to do so by the conservators, so we net him in and we keep his young safe.
”We need to look after him all the time. He started breeding three years ago and only had two cygnets that survived. That might be why he’s so aggressive.
”There should be some measures put on in Fen Ditton to make rowers slow down.”
Many residents, like Heather Coleman, who cycles along the river everyday to get to work, want to see garuntees that wildlife will be left alone.
She said: ”It would’ve been nice to have more of a commitment not to remove the swans, and I would like more guarantees about the wildlife in general.
”I’ve noticed far fewer young birds in the last few years, which I think is because of the number of rowers has increased.”
But James Macnaughten, a former rower and canoeist, said the conservators should take action to make the river safe.
He said: ”Anything that affects safe navigation of the river is an issue for the conservators.
”It seems to me that it people are attacked while out rowing that needs to be looked at. I was attacked by a swan several years ago and it’s not a lot of fun.”
During the annual four-day Cambridge University Bumps last month, the swan, its mate and its cygnets were penned in to prevent any vicious attacks.
Swans are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and illegally taking, injuring or killing them, or interfering with their nests or eggs carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or a £5,000 fine.
Once consultation is complete the conservators will consider the issue of Mr Asbo at their January 2011 meeting.