A Message from SwanLifeline

Monday 3rd January 2022, Eton, Berkshire: Swan Lifeline has sadly become a victim of the recent nationwide outbreak of Avian Flu (HPAI) H5N1.

The virus was confirmed by DEFRA on Sunday 2nd January at 20:30 - and on Monday 3rd January, DEFRA sent a team and a vet to humanely put to sleep the 26 swans we were still caring for since the outbreak. This action prevented the swans from the horrific and lethal effects of the virus and also protected other river wild fowl from potentially catching the virus.

Swan Lifeline's Chair, Dominic Smulders: "This has been a devastating and heart-breaking time for all of us at Swan Lifeline but I want to commend our on-site team for their absolute professionalism during these traumatic few days. I would also like to thank the DEFRA vet and team for their skill and empathy towards both the swans and our staff.

"DEFRA's opinion was that we did everything we possibly could to prevent an outbreak but because we're situated on an island, wild birds have access and also fly over the pens, bringing with them the virus. Since November, the on-site team have followed all requirements and guidance released by DEFRA and the Queen's Swan Marker with regards to safeguards and strict biosecurity measures, and the Trustees are extremely proud of the work they have done.

"Nature is beautiful - but it can also be cruel."

Swan Lifeline will be closed until the beginning of February, as per the DEFRA guidelines but we shall then move on and continue to do what we do. We will be thankful for all the support we will get as we move forward.