Police taught how to catch swans at WWT Slimbridge

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Media captionPolice officers in Gloucestershire are given a lesson in how to capture a swan

A lesson in swan handling has been given to a group of police officers at a wildfowl and wetlands centre.

Traffic officers from Gloucestershire Police were shown how to approach a swan to capture it and then handle it while transporting it to safety.

WWT Slimbridge experts led the training for the force which reported 18 incidents involving swans on the roads last year and 32 incidents in 2010.

In some cases the birds had caused problems on major routes in the county.

Sgt Martyn Murawa, from the Roads Policing Unit, said: "We think people would be surprised by the large number of incidents of swans causing chaos on the county's roads that the police get called to each year - and it's not just minor roads, we have even responded to incidents on the M5 and A419."

James Lees, reserve warden at Slimbridge Wetland Centre, who carried out the training, said: "Mute swans are the second largest bird in Europe, so this and their shape can make them a difficult bird to handle and capture without training.

"While it is a myth that a swan could break your arm, they are strong birds, which could cause bruising and cuts through incorrect handling.

"Equally although the swans have powerful legs and wings they can easily damage the tips of their wings and neck, so it is really important for their welfare that they are handled well too."

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