The National Convention for the Welfare of Swans
and Wildlife is an informal organisation comprising swan rescue groups and others with
an interest in the subject such as the RSPCA.
The Convention met first in October 1992 at Stratford upon Avon
the chairmanship of Cyril Bennis, a local councillor. Initially, a pattern of annual
meetings to discuss issues of mutual concern emerged, but then later, this was changed to
twice yearly meetings. This reflects a growing recognition of the wide range
of problems wildlife in general, and swans in particular face in a country dominated by
In order to be able to present reliable statistics on this, one of our
early initiatives was to develop a recording system for use by swan rescuers. As we become
more experienced the system is updated to enable it to yield more and better information
to help us in our communication with authorities.
In the early days we sought to comment on a policy document prepared by
the Labour Party then in opposition on the subject of angling.
and discarded fishing tackle continues to be the cause of about 40% of all the
incidents swan rescuers are called on to deal with, and despite the ban in 1987 of the
most commonly used lead weights, the number of birds found with high lead levels in
their blood is still causing great concern.
For the last three years we have been working hard with the
Agency in a research project, the object of which is to develop solutions to the ever
present problems caused by angling. The final report on this project should be ready to be
published later this year.
The Convention has also offered comments on proposed changes to
by-laws governing fishing close seasons.
While there is no doubt angling continues to pose the greatest threat
to swans, collisions with overhead power lines also figure large in our statistics.
In recognition of this we have included amongst the speakers who are now a regular feature
of all our meetings, representatives of electricity transmission companies and
manufacturers of equipment which is used quite extensively to divert flying birds away
from lines running across their flight paths. In South Wales especially, these
diverters have been installed to good effect at a number of locations
Just as we seek to find ways of reducing the number and types of
problem swans face, so we continue to stress the importance of monitoring swan casualties,
both in terms of what happens to them, but also where it happens. Only in this way can we
continue to build our credibility with such organisations and authorities as the
Agency, the RSPCA, The Edward Grey Institute for Field Ornithology and the
Queens Swan Marker.