A vicious swan dubbed ”Mr Asbo” after a series of attacks on rowers in Cambridge could soon be removed from River Cam.
The Cam Conservators have announced that an application was made to Natural England after first approaching the Queen’s Swan Marker for permission to remove the swan.
Last summer Mr Asbo targeted dozens of boaters in Fen Ditton, on the outskirts of Cambridge, from single scullers up to teams of eight and even capsized one canoeist.
He has now moved a mile and a half upriver towards the historic city centre, stepping up his assaults and raising fears tourists and punt users could soon come become targets.
Mr Asbo has been carrying out his attacks just a mile from the heart of the city, close to a busy section of river near the Green Dragon pub in the Chesterton area of Cambridge.
The crazed swan has been seen taking on bigger targets including motorised pleasure boats and biting the end of an eight crew’s craft.
Phillippa Noon, river manager for the Cam Conservators, said the application was being made as a matter of health and safety for river users.
She said: ”I can confirm that we have made an application to Natural England to relocate the swan. This can be done for health and safety reasons.
”We have done this because there have been a lot of incidents where the bird has attacked rowers, but it’s not just them.
”It is also people in kayaks who have been attacked. We want to move the swan before it or someone comes to grief.”
But critics have attacked the application, defending the natural habitat of the river against human interference.
Steve Knight, a trustee of the Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton, said: ”It would be very sad to see them go.
”Do we want to start picking and choosing what wildlife we want – do wewant a manicured wildlife?
”Swans were there long before people started using the river to go rowing so they should be allowed to stay.
”If this goes ahead it sets a worrying precedent.”
A spokeswoman for Natural England said that the application had beenreceived and would be fully investigated.
She said: ”We aim to process the application and make a decision within 30 days.
”An investigator will meet with the person who submitted the application and may also make a site visit before coming to a decision as to whether the swan can be removed.”
The BBC’s One Show was at the centre of controversy on the Cam in April after a film crew was accused of provoking the swan to get a reaction.
The four-minute clip showing rowers being attacked was aired at 7pm on April 26 and presenter Adrian Chiles promised viewers that the swan had not been coerced into attack.
Swans are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and illegally taking, injuring or killing them, or interfering with their nests or eggs carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or a £5,000 fine.