Rescue operation for baby swan sparks Hampstead Heath littering warning

PUBLISHED: 10:56 21 July 2016 | UPDATED: 10:56 21 July 2016

Heath rangers help the injured cygnet

Heath rangers help the injured cygnet


A baby swan had to be rescued after it became trapped in a fishing line, leaving it unable to swim.

The cygnet was just two months old when it was spotted floundering in Pond Number 2 on the Heath, before a team of rangers rescued it as they plucked the cygnet out of the pond and snipped the net off.

Thankfully the animal was not seriously injured, but it has prompted a warning about littering.

Ron Vester, member of the Heath and Hampstead sub-committee, who frequently monitors the ponds and saw the events unfold, said: “I saw the father of the swan looking like he was going to get out of the water and have a go at the rangers, so I kept it at a distance.

Rangers Justin Walsh and Scott from the City of London Corporation raced to the scene and pulled the cygnet out of the pond, as they also checked its body for any hooks.

“The swan must have swum into a fishing line that was in the water,” said Mr Vester.

The cause of the drama has been established to be excessive littering on the Heath, as a result of fishermen dropping off their nets in the ponds, something which “has been going on for years and years.”

Mr Vester said that more than 100ft of fishing line has been pulled out on one occasion.

“This isn’t the first time something like this has happened – once a swan had a hook stuck in his mouth, and we had to pull him down to help him.”

Fishing cannot be banned on the Heath’s ponds because fishermen pay a license fee in order to be able to fish on the Heath, meaning that “there’s no real answer” to the problem.

“In previous years a swan had swallowed part of a fishing line, leaving it lodged in its neck, so it had to be taken to the hospital to get it surgically removed,” Mr Vester said.

A spokesperson from the City of London said: “When the Heath Rangers got to the cygnet, they managed to bring it to safety under the trees.

“Ranger Justin Walsh cut and removed the entrapping wire.

“It is unlikely that without the prompt actions of our Ranger team the cygnet would have survived on such a hot day.

“Angles must not leave fishing lines or hooks in the water.

“Doing so puts wildlife at very real risk of injury.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories


Police are growing increasingly concerned for the welfare of a missing 12-year-old girl.

The mayor responded to Andrew Dismore last year in answer to questions in the London Assembly that “it remains my intention to deliver the whole of Cycle Superhighway 11 (CS11) from Swiss Cottage to the West End”.

The redesign of the dangerous, polluted Swiss Cottage gyratory is worth celebrating in itself.

Yesterday, 10:43

Hampstead campaigners have hit out at plans by the Royal Free Hospital to sell off Queen Mary’s House in Heath Street to developers to build high end luxury flats.

Yesterday, 08:00

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

Fri, 17:00

Journalist Neil Behrmann was London correspondent for various South African newspapers and is the author of the financial thriller, Jack of Diamonds.

Fri, 16:23

An Overground user group are angry at transport bosses for failing to tell commuters about a time change for a rush-hour “ghost train”.

Fri, 16:03

Bank customers have reported having hundreds of pounds swiped from their accounts at cashpoint machines in Hampstead and Kentish Town.


Wembley Sailing Club is hosting a Push the Boat Out event on Sunday May 20, where those interested in taking up the sport are invited to experience the club in action.

Preparing your child in advance for school will go a long way towards ensuring the very best start for your child.

After over 50 years in the acting industry, and a decade of unprecedented success delivering outstanding part-time performing arts tuition at her weekend Academies across the country, Pauline Quirke returns to her roots to create even more opportunities for young performers in North London.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now