Warning after Boldon swans and cygnets manhandled and carried 'screaming' back to lake by passersby

A warning has been issued after the swans that often reside at a lake in Boldon were manhandled – with fears the parents may disown the cygnets.

By Poppy Kennedy
Thursday, 15 August, 2019, 15:53
The swan family in Boldon.

Joanne Paterson, who works near the lake, said she did all she could to stop two women who picked up four of five cygnets and carried them back to the lake after the swan family attempted to cross the road.

The two swans and their five cygnets are a regular sight off Abingdon Way, in Boldon, and traffic often stops to allow them to cross the road.

Now Joanne feels she needs to warn the public against handling the birds after witnessing two women, who she says had good intentions, carry the family back to the lake.

Joanne Paterson wants to warn others not to interfere with the swan family.

The 33-year-old said: “The swans were crossing the road, as they do most days, and one car stopped and two women got out.

“They started lifting the cygnets to take them back to the lake. They were really distressed, you could hear them screeching – it was like nothing else.

“Hearing them crying out in such distress it made me feel sick and we tried to tell the women to leave them be.

“By the time we got there after seeing it through the window, they’d chased one of the swans and it was so tired it gave up fighting and they picked it up too.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Joanne Paterson, front, with colleagues Anna Cheng and Claire Smith, who are concerned about the family.

“I called the RSPCA because they seemed so distressed and I was told there is a risk that when a cygnet is handled that the parents will reject it.

“They live this life every day. They’re not stupid, they wait to cross the road and the majority of people in this area know about them and will happily wait.

“I want to warn people not to interfere with them. People driving tend to wait and let them pass but I would ask drivers to be aware when they’re coming on to the road to look out for them.”

The incident happened at around 1pm on Wednesday, August 14, and although three of the cygnets were missing later on when Joanne went to check on them they appeared again on Thursday, August 15.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: "It's great to hear that the local community is looking out for the welfare of the family of swans.

“Unfortunately, swans can and will stray from their pond to graze if other areas are particularly enticing, so we would encourage people to ask their local authority to install a wildlife crossing sign to encourage road users to take caution around the birds, and, like all wild animals, try to avoid handling them if possible."