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Fox attacks on swans are not common

31 October, 2019

‘Fox attacks on swans are not as common as people may think’

• I WANT to respond to J Edwards (Dogs seem to get the blame for everything, October 24) who raised the possibility that in September it could have been a fox or a badger which attacked our cygnet who later died, (Family of Heath cygnets reduced to five after suspected dog attack, October 10).

There was a report of one badger spotted on Hampstead Heath over a three-month period in 2018 but the same article also posed the possibility that, as the animal was moving at some speed, it “may have just been passing through rather than evidence of a sett on the Heath”.

There was also a New Journal report of a badger running down Arkwright Road near Finchley Road in March, which as I am sure you will appreciate is quite some distance from the Heath.

In my spare time I volunteer for The Swan Sanctuary where there is a team of experienced vets and medical staff.

Fox attacks on swans are not as common as people may think as, despite popular belief, they are generally quite docile and keen to avoid confrontation.

This is something that many people are also keen to avoid with our large resident male swan on Pond No 1, who fathered 10 cygnets earlier this year.

Not to be too graphic about it but when foxes do attack a swan, they will remove the head and the feet of the bird.

By contrast, dogs will attack the more fleshy parts of the body and leave very telling puncture marks and deep wounds, such as those found on our cygnet’s back.

We are not giving dogs a bad name at all, rather it is those owners who cannot control their dogs or who seem to think that their pet has the right to experience chasing, interrogating and attacking, a wild animal that we have a problem with.

This occurs on an all-too-common basis on the Heath, despite bye-law 21 stating that dogs should “be under proper control and be effectively restrained from injuring, annoying or disturbing any person or animal”.

I sincerely thank those of you who respect our wildlife enough to refrain from letting your dog run loose near the ponds.



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