Pollution May Be to Blame for Swan's Killing Spree

Original photo via Dave W

Swans may be regarded as symbols of love and harmony, but sometimes they too can be downright mean -- and one such bird in Wales may be the meanest of them all. Aptly named 'Hannibal', this bird has been on a rampage since the beginning of the year, killing 15 of his pond-mates and attacking dozens more. "I've never come across such an aggressive bird," said one wildlife worker, who describes Hannibal as a "horrible swan." But it may not be entirely his fault. The bird is so aggressive, officials suspect pollution in the water may be to blame for its bad behavior.According to the Western Telegraph, Hannibal's pond near Pembroke's Castle in Wales has been a killing field since earlier in the year. The swan has been observed pummeling rivals with its wings, feet, and beak -- even going as far as drowning them on a few occasions. Apparently, Hannibal even likes to show off his violent deeds, often inviting his mate and offspring to take a peek at the carnage.

For Maria Evans, the wildlife worker who maintains the pond, Hannibal's behavior has gotten way out of hand.

He is an absolutely horrible swan and people really don't like him. I've lost count of the times I've been over there to pick up dead and injured swans.


Although some swans are known to be quite territorial, Hannibal seems to have taken it to the extreme, which has lead to a high number of deaths and injuries among other swans -- an 'upsetting' sight for folks who've come to visit the pond. "Afterwards, he swims around the pond with his wings up, looking so proud of what he has done," says Evans. "And if his victims are injured on the bank, he just won't let them back in the water."

Castle authorities have decided that it may be time to find Hannibal and his family a new home -- and to figure out why he is so hostile. Blood tests are planned to determine if there's something out of the ordinary in his system. Evans suggests that pollution in the pond may be playing a role in the bird's anger problem.

The water in the pond is very brackish, salty and not particularly clean, and pollution and lack of nutrients can both be responsible for nasty behaviour in swans.

If it turns out that the pond water is in fact contributing to Hannibal's violent streak, hopefully both park officials and bird will learn to clean up their acts.

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Tags: Biology | Birds | England | Pollution

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