What Do Swans and Ikea Have in Common?

8 November 2020 Posted in

At Kilkenny SPCA, we care for all animals. One area where we do the most work as an organization is providing care and shelter for animals in distress, including wild animals.

Over the last few weeks, Noel, our animal inspector, has dealt with a number of calls from the public concerned with swans in Kilkenny City. We’d like to share a few stories of what goes on behind the scenes, including a nifty trick with a blue Ikea shopping bag!

Two Active Swan Calls – in One Day

Kilkenny SPCA takes calls about swans all year, but this October has been particularly busy. A few weeks ago, we took two calls about two different swans in a single day.

The first call came in from a member of the public who spotted a swan walking around the Hebron Industrial Estate. As locals, you know that the area is quite far from the water, which meant the animal was or could become in distress.

When Noel arrived on the scene, he found a young cygnet. You can spot a cygnet by its size and colouring. The cygnet was fine, but it would eventually need help getting home. So, Noel trapped it, and got it into the van. He then drove it back down to the river and released the cygnet on its merry way.

Later in the day, a second call came in from a member of the public. A swan hit an electric wire in Kilkenny City. However, the swan seemed to have wandered off in the meantime. A second call came about a swan found nearby. When Noel arrived, the swan had spats of blood around its neck and body. Noel took the swan to the vet, and the vet cared for a gash around the swan’s eye.

Once treated, Noel took the swan back down to the river and released it into the wild.

How Do Swans Find Themselves in Trouble?

Why was a cygnet wandering around Hebron Industrial Estate, and why do swans seem to find themselves in trouble?

One reason you might find a swan away from water is that they mistake wet surfaces for rivers. A swan will land on a wet motorway or road because the surface water makes it look like a safe place to go. As they come in for a landing, they get injured once they hit the ground. Wing injuries are particularly common among swans who make this mistake.

Once they injure themselves somewhere far away from the water, they can become stranded and often need human intervention for treatment and to find their way home again.

In both cases, Kilkenny SPCA funded the transport and the vet bills — your donations, hard at work!

Swan Rescue Tips from Kilkenny SPCA’s Animal Inspector

Trapping a swan for treatment and transport is a fine art. Their wings have a significant amount of bones. A swan flapping its wings in distress can break your arm!

Over the years, Noel has got the equipment, a swan hook, similar to a shephards hook, to trap swans without further injury to himself or the swan. Once he has the swan, the next step is to keep the wings close to the body and the feet.

Noel learned a handy trick from the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals in Great Britain: Ikea bags. Those big blue Ikea shopping bags are the perfect size for an adult swan. Once under control, it’s possible to neatly tuck their body in and leave their head out.

Getting them to the vet is easier with the right tools. Though, maneouvers become more difficult once they’re treated and feeling better. The trip from the van to the river is a bit dodgier than the initial trap because the swan is typically more alert!

Kilkenny SPCA Cares for Swans

At Kilkenny SPCA, we keep a constant eye on swans around the city and county. We work together with local vets, the Gardai, and members of the public to make sure local swans live in dignity and get the care they need when they treat the road like a runway.

So, if you see a swan looking out of place, don’t hesitate to call the Kilkenny SPCA. We’ve got our Ikea bags ready!