Cygnet deaths caused by viral disease?

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A male swan attends to a dying cygnet on Friday

FIVE cygnets have died on the River Avon in Stratford over the weekend.

It’s understood that three died of an acute viral disease on Friday afternoon at Stratford Marina by Clopton Bridge and two further cygnets have gone missing at the swan reserve by the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Speaking to the Herald, today, Monday, Cyril Bennis of Stratford Swan Rescue said it’s unlikely the two missing cygnets are still alive as they usually stay very close to their swan parents.

Mr Bennis said the death of the three cygnets was distressing because there was nothing he could to help the stricken birds.

“In 40 years of working with the swans on the river I’ve never seen anything like it. There were no external injuries and the three of them took five minutes to die in agony. It was cruel and devastating. You will always lose wildlife on the river to pike or mink but these cygnets came out of the water to die,” Mr Bennis said.

The dead cygnets were examined by Richard Lindsay at The Ark Veterinary Practice in Stratford who told Cyril Bennis that all three died from liver failure caused by an acute viral infection.

“I’ll be discussing this with other environmental agencies, as this could have implications for other river wildlife and I’ll be keeping a close watch on the river,” Cyril Bennis said.