Media release FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
The body of a female crane released as part of the Great Crane Project five years ago has been found shot dead.
The bird, nicknamed Swampy, was found dead in a maize field, near Ilchester, by a Somerset farmer recently. The crane’s body was handed to the Great Crane Project team and a subsequent post-mortem examination identified four round metal objects identified as gun shot. The most likely cause of death was shooting, the post-mortem examination concluded.
Because cranes are such large birds it is highly unusual for them to be shot. Details of the incident have been reported to Avon and Somerset Police. The bird was given the nickname Swampy because the egg she hatched from had been collected from a particularly treacherous and foul-smelling swamp in Germany.
Damon Bridge, who manages the Great Crane Project, said: “This is tragic and upsetting and what is particularly galling is that Swampy was the project’s best breeding female, having successfully raised two chicks in Somerset in 2015, and another this year. “She would have been highly likely to go on and make more successful breeding attempts. “Her mate Alexander has been seen continuing to raise their 2016 chick.
Alexander is likely to find a new mate for the 2017 breeding season but whether the new pair will go on to have the success Alexander and Swampy did remains to be seen.”
The Great Crane Project team and police are working to raise awareness of the presence of cranes with the shooting community in Somerset, and the bird’s legal status. Cranes cannot be legally shot in the UK and the RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction.
Anybody with information should contact Avon and Somerset Police quoting crime reference number 5216228321
For further information, images, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Chris Baker, RSPB Communications Officer, 01392 453299 / 07701 050010
Notes: The Great Crane Project is a partnership between the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the RSPB and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, with major funding from the Viridor Credits Environmental Company. The aim is to restore healthy populations of wild cranes throughout the UK, so people can once again experience these beautiful birds.
Chris Baker Communications Officer Tel: 01392 453299 Mobile: 07701 050010 South West Regional Office, 4th Floor (North Block), Broadwalk House, Southernhay West, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1TS