Two swans who have been victims of a senseless attack, leaving their pure natural looks tarnished with pink paint.
Reports initially came in of a ‘punk swan’ moving into Walton Dam yesterday lunchtime after a witness claimed a bird with a ‘pink streak’ in its feathers was roaming the water.
But upon seeing the swans ourselves it became clear to the DT they were victims of a callous graffiti artist, who had sullied their pure snowy appearence by seemingly spray-painting a large pink ring on their backs.
A witness said: “Someone has spray-painted one of the swans at Walton Dam with a pink streak... I presume it’s teen yobs not a self-styled punk swan.”
The spray attack targeted one parent of the bevy and also an adolescent who hasn’t yet got his white feathers.
Another said: “I came through here at midday and they were clean then, it must have happened since then,” implying the animals were tagged in pink sometime between 12pm and 2pm.
Bird lover Natalie Sharratt, of Walton, who walks along the water’s edge of the Hipper Valley Trail regularly on her way into Chesterfield, said she always loved seeing the family of birds as she went past.
She added: “That’s appalling what they’ve done. They’re so beautiful, and it’s ruined the look.
“I walk by here most days and I’ve been here for many years and I’ve never seen them.”
While the RSPCA said it was actually quite unusual for swans to deliberately go near any humans, this group of birds are incredibly friendly and curious about people, and may explain how a malicious avarian vandal was able to take advantage of their good nature and paint them pink.
The mute swans are very large white waterbirds with long S-shaped neck, and have recently increased in population in the UK, which may be due to better protection of the species, said the RSPB.
Jane Gillow, of the society, said: “We’re appalled and saddened when we hear of these cases and we urge anybody who sees anything like this to get in touch with the police wildlife liaison officer and the RSPCA.”
Rachel Butler, of Midland RSPCA, said: “We have been made aware of swans having been spray painted pink in Walton Dam, in Chesterfield. We urge anyone who has any information to call us on 0300 123 8018.
“It is a cruel and unnecessary thing to do to an animal. Dyeing a bird could cause allergic reactions and compromise the animals’ ability to communicate with other animals of their own and other species and make them more vulnerable to predators.”
Other concerns include the stress of being restrained while the dyeing process is undertaken, and the risk that they will try to clean the unwanted substance off their feathers and ingest it.
Ms Butler added: “Birds are living creatures and dyeing them in this way sends out an extremely worrying message that they could be viewed as novelties rather than as intelligent, sentient beings.”
Derbyshire police said no report had been made of a crime so was not looking into the case, but we ask readers to be vigilant and let us know if you have any information which might bring the heartless artist to justice.