Regulars at a seaside beauty spot have said they are “heartbroken” after a well-known swan was put down “unnecessarily”, they claimed.
A protected species, the elderly female lived on Wilderness Lake in Porthcawl, Bridgend county, where residents looked after it for 20 years.
The swan was reported to the RSPCA as being seriously ill and was put down.
The charity said the bird had been attacked and a vet decided putting it down was the only option.
Linda Keane-Bacon, who helps run the Friends of the Wilderness Facebook page, said the swan “wasn’t ill, just old”.
“She had arthritis from an old leg injury and liked to rest on the bank for a couple of hours at a time before re-joining her mate and her baby on the water,” she said.
“Other than that there was nothing really wrong with her.”
She claimed the RSPCA wrongly assumed the bird was lame and a team of wildlife experts called Swan Rescue South Wales should have been the first port of call for any issues.
She said the community was “heartbroken and very angry” after the swan was put down.
“I can’t help but think of her poor little cygnet, who is only nine weeks old. We’d often see it curled up next to its mum on the grass – we really don’t know what will happen to it now,” she said.
Gary Cokely, a volunteer from Swan Rescue South Wales, said the bird had been struggling with one of her legs for three years and needed more rest than other swans, but was otherwise “generally good for a bird her age”.
He added: “They certainly should have checked with us first. What is more, had we been forced to do the same, we’d have taken care to temporarily remove her whole family as well.
“That way they could all remain together while she was being treated somewhere. Otherwise the male, not knowing what’s happened to his mate, might fly off in search of her – thereby abandoning their chick.”
RSPCA Cymru said its officers had been called to the lake after concerns were raised about a swan “that appeared to have been attacked by birds, was limping and reportedly had not moved for a few weeks.
“When we arrived, the swan took a few steps and then collapsed. The unwell swan was taken to a veterinary surgery for an examination and, in the interests of its welfare, it was decided by the vet that the only cause of action was to put her to sleep.”
The charity said it was “saddened” by the outcome and understood people’s concerns.
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