South West Wales

Eviction threat for Hannibal the killer Pembroke swan

A swan dubbed Hannibal after he killed 15 and injured at least 22 other swans in a seven-month reign of terror could be removed from a Pembrokeshire lake.

Wildlife worker Maria Evans, on emergency call at Pembroke's Castle Pond since February, has applied for an official licence to 'uplift' him.

"In 20 years I've never come across such an aggressive bird," she said.

"I'm uplifting him as soon as the Countryside Council of Wales licence arrives."

Mrs Evans, who runs Tinker's Hill Bird of Prey & Swan Rescue Centre, explained that Hannibal lives with his mate and their cygnet alone on Castle Pond.

The saltwater pond is separated by a bridge and barrage from neighbouring Mill Pond, home to a swan population of between 60 - 70.

"Swans returning to the Mill Pond occasionally fail to make it over the bridge and land in his pond," she said. "And that's when he attacks them."

Mrs Evans, a volunteer, said she was first called out to tend to one of Hannibal's victims in February, and that the problem had got progressively worse.

"We have known cases of aggressive swans before but this one seems to be making it into an extreme sport," she said.

"He's either a plain so-and-so or else there could be a reason."

Competitive

A number of factors could be causing Hannibal's aggression, she said.

One could be the lack of green food in his pond, making him more competitive for what little food is available.

"He is a father and so he may just be doing what any of us would to protect his family," said Mrs Evans.

"But normally that behaviour dies down as the cygnet grows, and this swan has just gone from bad to worse."

Another reason, she said, might be continual exposure to pollution.

"Until I can get my hands on him and get him blood-tested I can't say," she said.

'Private lake'

Though the job of evicting Hannibal from his home may not sound like one for the faint-hearted, Mrs Evans said she was confident of succeeding unharmed.

"I went for a recce on Saturday and sat on a capstan near the pond," she said. "Two elderly ladies showed up and they were feeding Hannibal and his mate who had come out of the water towards them.

"So I'm not envisaging an enormous problem."

In the event of the licence being granted Hannibal will be kept and blood-tested at the rescue centre.

"He will be here until we can determine if he has a solvable problem," said Mrs Evans.

"If he hasn't then the chances are he and his family will be taken to live on a private lake where there are no other swans."

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