As It Happens

Rogue British swan terrorizes model boating community

A swan in the U.K. has attacked several model boats. The situation has become so bad that members of the model boating club have written to the Queen to have the bird removed.
The swan has damaged eight model boats to date (Peter Ashford)

A swan is on the rampage in the town of Needham Market, U.K., smashing eight model boats, which are worth up to $25,000 Cdn, each.

Cliff Galsworthy, who is the treasurer of the Gipping Valley Model Boat Club tells As It Happens guest host Helen Mann that his group has shared the lake with swans for years, but this particular swan is a different story.

The boaters can't do anything to the bird as all swans technically belong to the Queen. (Peter Ashford)

"It's got four cygnet at the moment and he's got his mate, he used to be on the river and he was a bit of a rogue on the river chasing boats."

Galsworthy says his first run in with the swan saw his prized model boat almost wind up at the bottom of the lake.

"Just as the boat was going I saw this swan charging across the water and jumped straight on top of the boat." Galsworthy shouted at the swan but that didn't stop the rampage,

"It just jumped up and down on the boat and rolled it over. Then it sort of stood up and looked at it."

A member of the model boating club fishes his boat out of the lake. (Peter Ashford)

The boat is an exact scale model of a 1953 harbour master's yacht that was used in London. Galsworthy spent five months building it by hand.

He says his first thought was revenge,  "I thought 'who's got a shotgun so I can go and kill it?' — I was that upset." 

All boats have been recovered but with several thousand dollars in damage. (Peter Ashford)

Killing the bird would be ill-advised. All unclaimed swans belong to the Seigneur of the Swans, also known as Queen Elizabeth II. It would be a criminal offense to harm the bird, so members of the club have written to the Queen to try and have the it removed.

The swan's reign of terror has continued since that run in, with a total of eight boats being damaged by the swan. All the boats have been recovered.

For now, members of the Gipping Valley Model Boat Club keep a look out for the swan and quickly pull their boats out of the water when he's spotted.

This swan has been attacking model boats worth several thousand dollars. (Peter Ashford)


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