A swan is recovering at an RSPCA wildlife centre after he was found covered in petrol in a lake at St Helens.
Two RSPCA officers rescued the swan from a lake in Gerards Lane on Wednesday (9 August) after a member of the public reported the incident to the charity.
The swan was taken to the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, where he will be cleaned by staff and monitored.
Animal Welfare Office Steve Wickham said: “The swan was quite difficult to catch and we had to get our boat out to safely rescue him.
“He had petrol all underneath his body and his neck. We found a discarded can of petrol in the lake so it is clear that someone deliberately dumped fuel in there with no regard for the wildlife. This was a very irresponsible thing to do.
“People should not dump material in rivers because it can cause untold damage to wildlife, not to mention the risk to the environment. When any bird gets oil on its feathers, it will preen itself to try and clean it off. The oil is then ingested and can cause potentially fatal internal problems.
“If oil is not removed from waterbirds it reduces the natural waterproofing in their plumage, leaving them at risk of dying from hypothermia. It can also stop them flying and means they are not waterproof so struggle to float on water.
“This poor swan could have been spared so much suffering and distress if this irresponsible person disposed of their oil legally and properly.”
The RSPCA would recommend anyone who sees pollution on water or land to call the Environment Agency 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Concerns for a wild animal that has come into contact with oil or other contaminants should be reported to the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.