Swans rescued from oil spill caused by flooding in Rotherham released back into the wild
Nearly 50 swans which were rescued from an oil spill caused when heavy rain flooded parts of Rotherham have been released back into the wild.
The RSPCA launched a rescue mission to save the birds from oil contamination in the Parkgate Canal Basin, near where it connects with the River Don, off Rawmarsh Road in Rotherham.
The oil is thought to have come from cars which had become trapped in nearby floodwater.
Rescuers have now started to release the 49 swans – whose feathers were caked in oil – back into their natural habitat.
RSPCA Inspector Sara Jordan, who headed up the four-day rescue, said the swans seemed much ‘healthier and happier’ now compared to when they were rescued.
She added: “It was so important we rescued the swans as pollution on the bird’s feathers damages the structure of them and also when they are preening they ingest the contaminants and this makes them ill. When they are preening they are not eating so lose weight and become weak.
“If oil is not removed from waterbirds it reduces the natural waterproofing in their plumage, leaving them at risk of dying from hypothermia - so it is vital that they are treated as soon as possible.
“It was a really successful operation. Managing to capture so many swans is quite a big task but we had such a fantastic team of specially trained water rescue officers to assist with a number of boats being used.
“The amazing staff at Stapeley Grange and East Winch then quickly got to work on the rehabilitation side and we now have the swans back to full health in their natural habitat which is great.”
Officers used rescue boats to pick up the swans before transporting them to two RSPCA centres – Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire and East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk – where staff cleaned the swans and nursed them back to full health.
The first batch of 26 birds were returned to the canal basin in Rotherham on December 4 with the rest due to be released over the next few days.