Swans Stop Traffic

Swans on a flight path present air strike risk/ istockphotoIncidents with traffic and swans in the past week have highlighted how easily accidents can happen if bird deterrent measures aren’t implemented.

Last week a swan on the M4 near Hayes brought rush hour traffic to a standstill. Luckily no one was injured. A couple of weeks ago Newham residents wanted flights at City airport grounded until swans were relocated a safe distance from the flight path.

For the birds own safety and for the safety of aircraft, the swans were relocated down the river to Windsor, but they keep returning to their nesting site. Perhaps that was where the swan was going on the M4?

Bird control is particularly important at airports because bird strikes are one of the most common causes of aircraft accidents. Such an incident is believed to have caused the downing of US Airways Flight 1549, which was forced to land in New York’s Hudson River.

To minimize the risk of air strike, airports have bird controls measures. This may include full time teams who patrol the entire airport 24 hours a day with Land Rovers, acoustic devices and Birds of Prey. Other deterrent methods comprise netting and wiring to prevent birds from nesting, and thus deterring them from creating havoc for air control.

But what should you do if a swan is blocking the road? Please don’t approach it or attempt to move it yourself. Mute swans are powerful birds with a 10 foot wingspan and can weigh over 30 pounds. It’s a myth that their necks can break your arm, but they can give you a nasty bruise or peck. If a swan is found on the road the RSPB advise to contact the traffic police.

Swans are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to intentionally injure, take or kill a wild swan. The Act similarly protects the eggs and nests of swans. It is an offence to take or possess the egg of a wild mute swan, or to damage or destroy the nest of a mute swan whilst in use or being built.

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