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Family of Heath cygnets reduced to five after suspected dog attack

'Swans are wild animals and you simply cannot know how your dog will respond when squared-up to a swan'

11 October, 2019 — By Richard Osley

The injured swan was taken to a sanctuary but later died [Photo: Louisa Green]

VOLUNTEERS watching over a record-breaking brood of cygnets living on Hampstead Heath say the family has been reduced to just five after one of the young swans died following a suspected dog attack.

A rescue team tried to save the bird after it was found with a “large flesh wound” on her back and an injury to its tail. The cygnet was taken to The Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton on Sunday where the wounds were packed with antibiotics but she died later the same evening.

The New Journal reported earlier this year how ten young swans were living around the No 1 Pond. Louisa Green, who has been looking out for the swans since their arrival in March, said she hoped the photo of the stricken swan might remind dog owners to take caution around the ponds.

“I would like to make a desperate plea to dog owners to keep your dog under close control around the wildlife, or better still, on a lead near the water and set an example for others,” she said.

“Having looked through local newspaper articles from the past 15 years, the number of dog attacks leading to swan deaths on the Heath has resulted in a 60 per cent drop in the number of mating adult swans here in Hampstead. The swan pair on Hampstead No. 1, which have won the hearts of many locals, are our only remaining mating couple.”

She said that even dog owners who believe their pets would not attack a swan should be mindful.

“Swans are wild animals and you simply cannot know how your dog will respond when squared-up to a swan,” Ms Green added.

One of the cygnets was rescued earlier in the year after swallowing an angler’s hook.

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