Horror as dogs maul swan in park attack

Clare Hill and her dog (far right), with Chris Cowell and her friend Bob who are concerned about dog attacks on swans in Tilgate Park. Pic Steve Robards SR1714949 SUS-170626-092349001
Clare Hill and her dog (far right), with Chris Cowell and her friend Bob who are concerned about dog attacks on swans in Tilgate Park. Pic Steve Robards SR1714949 SUS-170626-092349001

Wildlife lovers are calling for dog owners to keep their pets on leads after a swan was mauled in an horrific attack.

The male swan was protecting his female partner and cygnets when he was attacked near a lake in Tilgate Park, Crawley. Horrifield dog owner Clare Hill was exercising her pet in the park when she saw the injured swan cowering in some reeds.

“I can’t understand how someone can let their dog do this,” she said. “People know the swans are there and now the rest of the swan family have been put at risk.”

The Copthorne-based charity Swans and Friends Bird Rescue were alerted about the injured bird and managed to capture it and take it to the Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton where it is now being cared for. Vets believe the swan was attacked by two dogs because of the bites on its body.

Swans and Friends rescuer John Potts said the injured swan was going to need care at the sanctuary for some time. And, he said, there were now fears for the bird’s remaining family at Tilgate Lake who could be open to further attack. He said they would be closely monitored and, if necessary, also moved to the sanctuary at Shepperton. He called on Crawley Borough Council to enforce dog control orders around the lake area.

Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera said he was discussing the problem with fellow councillor Chris Mullins to see what could be done. “Our primary concern is the wildlife,” he said.

And Councillor Mullins said he had been worried about dogs attacking wildlife for some time after a number of deer were killed there every year. “Many people who own dogs are very responsible but there is an element of irresponsible people who don’t look after their dogs properly by allowing them to run wild.”

A council spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear of the injuries sustained by the swan and hope it makes a speedy recovery. The vast majority of people who walk their dogs in Tilgate Park do so responsibly, being mindful of wildlife and other park users. However, we will be putting up posters to remind dog walkers of their responsibilities and including a contact number for our community wardens so any anti-social behaviour can be reported immediately. In addition, the community wardens will increase their patrols within the park.”