A wild swan race: Swan management plan announced

Amelia Oakley 28 May 2016

The organisation Conservators of the River Cam has announced its strategy for preventing swans from disrupting activities on the river this summer, following a large increase in the number of the birds in Cambridge. Under the plan, swans will be escorted to a safe area of the river while boat races are taking place.

The decision follows a warning earlier in the month that up to 108 swans were likely to congregate in Cambridge, representing a tenfold increase on usual numbers. Concerns were raised at that time that aggressive swans could present a danger to people on the Cam, especially after one swan was implicated in two attacks on passers-by. Conservators also expressed concern that rowing boats could present a danger to swans themselves.

The Conservators intend to find volunteers to escort the swans to their designated spaces and then to supervise them while each event takes place. Their plan was developed with the aid of the Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs, the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association, and local residents. Advice was also provided by Natural England and the Queen’s Royal Swan Marker.

The Conservators’ River Manager Jed Ramsay stated, “Protecting swans on the River Cam is an essential part of our work. I think the plan to escort the swans out of harm's way during the races will keep the swans safe, whilst also allowing the races to go ahead without the fear of injuries to wildlife".

He also denied claims that the organisation had been ready to kill swan foetuses through the application of oil to eggs or the use of pins, saying that “I was personally horrified by the suggestion that we would even consider oiling swans' eggs. I can categorically state that we would never consider this an option. It entirely goes against our ethos as an organisation that looks after the river."