Berkshire

Fatal dog attacks threaten swan numbers on the River Thames

Swan upping Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Last year's Swan Upping ceremony recorded that cygnet numbers were down by a third following air rifle attacks

A number of nesting swans have been killed in a spate of dog attacks, according to the man responsible for an annual swan census on the River Thames.

The Queen's Swan Marker, David Barber, said incidents had been recorded in Caversham, Hurley, Maidenhead and Marlow.

Mr Barber said there had also been reports of egg theft and vandalism.

Last year's Swan Upping ceremony recorded that cygnet numbers were down by a third following air rifle attacks.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Swan Upping ceremony which dates back to the 12th century is due to be held this year on 18-22 July

Mr Barber appealed to dog walkers to keep their pets under control near swans and other wildlife.

He said: "Sadly, some of the injuries sustained by the parent birds have been fatal, resulting in young cygnets struggling to survive on their own against the ever-present threats of natural predators.

"Without the adult birds being present to protect them, many cygnets do not survive such attacks."

The Swan Upping ceremony, which dates back to the 12th century, is due to be held this year on 18-22 July.

The annual event involves teams of rowers in scarlet uniforms collecting swans and assessing their health on behalf of the Crown, which claims ownership of swans on certain stretches of the Thames and its tributaries.

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