Thuggish motorist mows down baby swans
A driver has run over six cygnets on a country lane in Co Fermanagh.
Animal lovers and residents of Lisnarick, outside Irvinestown, said they were disgusted by the incident, which happened on Tuesday around 9.45pm.
They explained that the baby swans and their mother were a familiar sight in the area, and that they were appalled to see four birds killed outright and another left seriously injured and dying on the road.
Despite the efforts of passer-by Kevin Leonard, a vet from Drumlin Veterinary Practice, and motorist Paul Hoy, only one bird could be saved at the scene.
Mr Leonard treated a cygnet with minor injuries with an antibiotic cream at the roadside before releasing it to a nearby lake to its mother.
Another was so badly injured, he had to put it down with an injection.
Both men described the scene of the accident as “very upsetting and “disgusting”.
“A girl who was there said she saw the car running them down and then just driving on,” Mr Hoy said.
“We’re all wondering how this could have been an accident - it’s a 30mph speed limit there and it wasn’t dark, so the swans were very visible.
“If you can’t see six swans on the road, what are the chances you’ll see a child?”
It is not known if the driver, who witnesses said did not stop, knew they had hit and killed the birds, but the incident has been reported to police.
Daniel Barclay, of Northern Ireland Says No To Animal Cruelty, said that whoever did it should own up immediately.
“It is not known at this stage whether the person ran them over deliberately or whether it was an accident,” he added.
“But if it was deliberate, then the person who did it should be punished because it is a crime to harm animals, and swans are also protected.
“There was also a similar incident in Carryduff a few weeks ago in which several swans were also killed.
“It is always very sad to hear about something like this happening.”
Local resident Pat Masterson said the family of swans were frequent visitors to her farm.
“When I saw their mother walking them along the road, all in line, I stopped to take a picture,” she explained.
Traditionally, all swans in open water are said to belong to the Queen.
They are also a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to intentionally harm a swan or even to disturb its nest.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “The incident was reported to police on July 7. However, it is understood it may have happened two days earlier, on July 5th. If you can help please call 101.”