HL Deb 02 August 1982 vol 434 cc660-1WA
Lord Brockway

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will institute an inquiry into the cause of the death through poisoning of swans in the Thames; whether if, as alleged, the type of baits and weights used by local fishermen are found to be the source of botulinus and lead poisoning they will prohibit them, and whether they will make a grant to Mr. Steven Cooke, the Windsor veterinary surgeon who is treating the birds voluntarily at considerable cost.

The Earl of Avon

The Institute of Terrestrial Ecology has been consulted about recent deaths of swans on the Thames. Around seven birds are thought to have died, which is considerably fewer than has been suggested in the press. The exact cause of death has not been firmly established, but botulinus or lead poisoning is considered unlikely to be responsible.

The Nature Conservancy Council report of December 1981, Lead Poisoning in Swans, concluded that whilst the swan population as a whole was not dramatically declining, the population on certain rivers was seriously affected by ingestion of lead particles, mainly from fishing weights. The Council is now working on a programme to implement some of the report's recommendations.

There are no plans to make a grant to Mr. Cooke.