Swans return to Wigan lake after oil spill drama

Five swans who were found smothered in oil from a polluted Wigan fishing lake have been returned home.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 8:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 8:32 am

The RSPCA were called to rescue the five birds after a diesel spill on Wednesday January 8 at the ponds off Scot Lane, Martland Mill.

Officers used a rescue boat to capture the affected swans and they were taken to Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, where they were cleaned and recovered well.

But the waterfowl had to remain at the wildlife centre until the ponds were cleaned by Wigan Council.

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RSPCA animal welfare officer David Hatton, part of the team  to rescue five swans, covered in oil or diesel, at Scot Lane fishing pond
RSPCA animal welfare officer David Hatton, part of the team to rescue five swans, covered in oil or diesel, at Scot Lane fishing pond

That clean-up has now successfully been completed and the swans were returned to the ponds on Thursday, January 23, more than two weeks after the spillage.

It is quite a turnaround for the swans, who RSPCA chiefs warned could have died if they had not been cleaned quickly enough.

They said that if oil isn’t removed from waterbirds it reduces the natural waterproofing in their plumage.

The charity said this then leaves them at risk of dying from hypothermia - so it is vital that they are treated quickly.

The swans have been cleaned up after being covered in oil and returned to the pond at Martland Mill, off Scot Lane, Wigan

The swans were cleaned carefully at the wildlife centre with washing up liquid.

An RSPCA spokesman said: “We are delighted the swans have been returned to their home at the fishing lakes in Scot Lane, Wigan.

“Five swans were removed earlier this month after they became covered in diesel following a spillage on the lake.

“RSPCA officers using a water rescue boat captured the affected swans and they were taken to the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, where they were cleaned.

“On Thursday they were re-released back onto the lake after the oil spillage was removed.”

The Environment Agency (EA) said it had located the source of the oil spillage and that it is continuing to investigate the matter.

The ponds at Martland Mill have always proved popular with anglers.

An EA spokesman said: “The Enviroment Agency have located the source of the recent oil spillage at the ponds on Scot Lane, Wigan.

“The Environment Agency are now investigating to establish who is responsible for the pollution included and following completion appropriate enforcement action will be taken.

“Anyone who sees something their local water course that does not look right, should report it to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.”