Poachers are shooting hundreds of endangered swans during their annual migration across the North Atlantic. The news comes via a new report from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Scotland, which said that nearly a third of Bewick and Whooper swans that arrive in the United Kingdom each autumn have pellets embedded in their skin.
The two species, which are known to spend their summers in Iceland, are protected by law throughout their journey.
Julia Newth said on behalf of the WWT, “Both species are completely legally protected in every country they fly through and there should be a zero percentage being shot. It is incredible that we have 13.6 percent of Whoopers and almost 33 per cent of Bewicks being shot. It is likely hundreds are being killed – birds that die are not often retrieved. But if we are looking at 33 percent wounded and still alive, you image a great many more being shot dead,” the Scotsman news agency reports.
Newth said that some of the Bewick swans are probably shot by British hunters, or those in countries along the route, including Latvia, Russia and Estonia.
“But the Whooper swans only migrate from Iceland where they breed over the summer and make their way to Britain and Ireland. It means they are being shot in Britain, Iceland or Ireland,” she said.
“They haven’t far to go and they are being shot close to home. Although 13 percent carrying shotgun pellets in their bodies sounds a lot lower than the rate for the Bewicks, it is baffling when you consider their migration route.”