RSPCA officers and firefighters come to the rescue of swan stuck in frozen water in Wigan

RSPCA water teams shrugged off the winter weather to rescue a stricken swan in Wigan.
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Animal rescue officer Stephen Wickham joined officers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to help a swan stuck in frozen water at Kingsdown Flash, Abram, on Friday evening.

They boarded a specialist fire service raft – designed to be dragged across icy surfaces – to reach the bird.

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One of the rescued swansOne of the rescued swans
One of the rescued swans
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Unfortunately, the swan was found to be suffering from avian flu and was put to sleep, but the rescue team did at least prevent further trauma.

It followed Stephen and his colleague David Cottingham deploying the charity’s rescue dinghy to reach a swan who had dropped down into an overflow at Sale Water Park the day before.

Donning waterproof wear and PPE, they rowed out to the swan and used a pole to grab her, before releasing her back into the chilly water.

Stephen, who is trained in swiftwater rescue techniques, said: “The swan at Sale Water Park was too far away for us to get to by wading out across the freezing water, so we needed to get our dinghy out.

Rescuing the swan at Sale Water ParkRescuing the swan at Sale Water Park
Rescuing the swan at Sale Water Park
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“Unfortunately, avian flu has really affected the bird life at the water park and we’ve lost 30 swans to the disease recently. Happily, this swan was in a healthy condition, so it was nice to be able to put one back on the water after a successful rescue.

“There are RSPCA officers, like myself, who are trained in water rescues and members of the public should not attempt to rescue birds trapped in circumstances like this, particularly in the freezing weather conditions we are experiencing at the moment.”

Elsewhere, the RSPCA and Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service helped a swan who had been stranded for several days on frozen water at Siddick Ponds Nature Reserve in Workington.

Fire officers using specialist equipment made their way across the pond to reach the bird, who was passed on to inspector Martyn Fletcher.

The stricken swan at Sale Water ParkThe stricken swan at Sale Water Park
The stricken swan at Sale Water Park
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The swan was uninjured, but exhausted from struggling to break free from the ice in temperatures as low as -8C.

The RSPCA advises people to take care when approaching wildlife trapped in dangerous locations like these. They should call for help and report the matter to the charity on 0300 1234 999.

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