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14th Nov, 2019

Plastic caught around swan's tongue in Stratford highlights danger to wildlife

A SWAN found with a plastic ring caught around its tongue was ‘screaming in pain’ says Stratford swan rescuer Cyril Bennis.

The animal was discovered by six-year-old James Batty who was out feeding the birds with mum Joanne.

He pointed out the duck was struggling to eat the bread and appeared to have something caught on its beak.

Joanne immediately contacted Cyril who managed to manoeuvre the swan onto a bank to find the plastic ring – likely from a bottle neck – wrapped around the bottom half of its beak and its tongue.

He called the discovery ‘unexpected’ and ‘horrific’.

He told the Observer: “In all my time of rescuing swans I’d never seen anything like it. It was horrific. I was not expecting to find that when I opened up its beak. Poor unfortunate animal there’s no doubt it was in severe difficulty. It couldn’t function enough to be able to survive. It couldn’t swallow and it was getting caught up in the weeds trying to eat them.

“It just shows what a small piece of plastic can do. It was such a simple thing but it was so strong and difficult to unravel. It was just horrifying.

“When I found it, it was screaming out in pain from the other side of the river. It was very well spotted by the lady who got in touch with me on Facebook.

“I watched it for a bit after and you could just tell it was so happy to live another day.”

Joanne has praised Cyril for his efforts.

She said: “I left him a message and he phoned me back straight away and went straight down there. He said if it had been much longer it would have been too late for the swan. I can’t thank him enough. If it wasn’t for him there would hardly be any swans in Stratford.”

Joanne, who is also a member of litter picking group Rubbish Friends added there should be more bins around especially by the river where there was often a lot of rubbish strewn about.

Group founder Becky Reynolds said members had also come across firsthand examples of animals harmed by litter in the town.

She said: “The group works very hard to raise awareness about the negative impact of littering.

“On litter picks we have come across mice trapped in bottles and jars and once we found a hedgehog which had died after being caught up in string.

“We can’t stress enough over about the harm to wildlife and how destructive litter and plastic it is to animals.”

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