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‘Find a new place for jet skis’

A COMMUNITY activist has appealed to jet ski operators to stop using O’Briensbridge for recreational purposes after a swan was seriously injured following a recent alleged incident.
Former O’Briensbridge Community Group chairman, Jack Byrnes has also expressed concern that up to 30 extreme swimmers who swim in the area throughout the year may not be seen and could be hit by a speeding jet ski.
Mr Byrnes has been watching a male and female swan in the locality for about 20 years. Last year, the female swan had to be rescued after she was caught up in a fishing tackle on the river.
Because of this trauma, he believes that she mated late and subsequently her eggs didn’t hatch out.
However, this year he was delighted when she had six signets. He believes the male swan got attacked by a mink, and had recovered before he was hit by a jet ski recently.
With the assistance of Michelle Hastings and Edel Ryan, locals contacted Denis and Rose McCarthy of Animal Magic in Kilmallock, who removed the injured wing.
Not only has the swan lost his family, Mr Byrnes pointed out the swan will not be able to mate, as he needs two wings to keep his balance. He said the swan will have to spend the rest of his life in the sanctuary because he wouldn’t survive if it returned to O’Briensbridge.
Jack said if the swan was returned to the wild and to his mate, he would die. He added a few locals look after wildlife, trees, flora and fauna in the area.
Animal Magic was set up more than 17 years ago, with the aim of making a small living for the couple, and to fund the rescue and rehabilitation of native wildlife, which they are dedicated to help.
Denis McCarthy of Animal Magic told The Clare Champion the swan’s wing had broken in two places and believes it was hit by a vessel going at high speed.
He confirmed the swan’s wing was so badly broken it had to be amputated, leaving it unable to fly in the future.
The swan will be placed in a private pond where it will be monitored, fed and looked after. “Swans fly to get food, so the swan will be placed in a place where there will be no need to fly. It is a better option rather than having her euthanised.
He appealed to jet ski owners to operate in areas where wildlife and swimmers aren’t using the water.
“Swans are large and are white. If a person on a jet ski didn’t see a swan, how would they see a child or an adult swimming. I am not looking for a ban on speed boats or jet skis, but I don’t think jet skis should be mixing with wildlife.
“I believe swans have been in O’Briensbridge for 20 years, so it is their patch. Maybe if Waterways Ireland put up signs saying swans are in the area, it would be a help.”
Michelle Hastings said fishing lines and hooks have also caused difficulties for swans in recent years. Expressing concern about the speed of some jet skis, Ms Hastings said jet ski operators may not see grey signets who could also be hit and injured on a dull or rainy day when visibility is reduced. She recalled three swans had to be rescued on the River Shannon after they were injured in recent years.
A few months ago, she said one swan was taken away by the Department of Agriculture and was euthanised immediately amid concerns the swan had contracted the Avian Flu.
“Jet skis come up along the river from Castleconnell at speed. In addition to noise pollution, it is reckless behaviour. There is a code of conduct on water users and there is speed limits within certain places such as harbours.
“Some people on jet skis don’t see any harm in what they are doing. People should also keep their distance from swans and shouldn’t approach them, particularly when they are on a nest or if they have signets, they are going to protect their young.
“It is illegal to photograph or approach a nesting bird because they may abandon the nest.”

by Dan Danaher

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