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Hampstead Heath swans: Cygnet found wrapped in ‘noose’ as fears of targeted killings grow

PUBLISHED: 10:31 30 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:31 30 November 2016

One of the snares found on Hampstead Heath       Picture: Ron Vester

One of the snares found on Hampstead Heath Picture: Ron Vester

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Fears are growing for the beleaguered swan family living in Hampstead Heath’s Model Boating Pond after a “noose” was found choking a cygnet.

The snared youngster, who was found by daily Heath visitor Jamie De Aguiar, belongs to the same family of birds which has lost three of its original six members and which last month was deprived of its father after he flew into a building and died.

Mr De Aguiar, who regularly brings food for the swans, said he discovered the snared cygnet on Thursday last week.

It was “trying to remove a noose that was wrapped around its neck, body and legs,” he said, adding: “The noose was made from a strong cord, the type that you find on clothing like jackets.”

He successfully removed the snare and reported the incident to the Hampstead Heath Constabulary, but now worries the birds are being targeted.

A dog chasing the swan family that lives on Hampstead Heath's Model boating Pond      Picture: Ron VesterA dog chasing the swan family that lives on Hampstead Heath's Model boating Pond Picture: Ron Vester

“My belief is that the killings and the latest incident have been deliberately caused by someone, probably with a dog at night or in the early hours of the morning when there is no one around to see and making it look like fox attacks,” he said, stressing that the pond’s island should be a “sanctuary” for wildlife.

Diminished to a mother and two cygnets, the family is also repeatedly harassed by dogs, according to photographer and swan-lover Ron Vester – who added the snare is the second found in a matter of days.

He said he recently witnessed the young swans struggling to escape a dog attack, during which they “swam and fluttered” because they cannot yet fly.

“If the male swan had survived from his recent death crashing into a building, he most likely could have drowned the dog,” Mr Vester said.

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said: “The Heath Constabulary has investigated reports of the use of snares in the Model Boating Pond after a report from a member of the public. However, none have been found.

“If any members of the public see anything they believe to be a snare or similar device, please report it to the Heath Constabulary immediately on 020 8340 5260.”


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