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Asbo swan is allowed to remain on the River Cam
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Mr Asbo, the swan, can remain on the River Cam as long as his bad behaviour is managed by volunteers

A badly-behaved swan has been allowed to remain on the River Cam even though rowers have called for his removal.

Mr Asbo, as he has become known, has a penchant for chasing other river-users including rowers and fishermen.

At a meeting on 9 July 2010, the Conservators of the River Cam decided that the swan could stay, provided its behaviour is managed by volunteers.

The Conservators are also planning to monitor river vessels to see whether other wildlife is being affected.

Since 2009 there have been 20 reports of river-users being chased or attacked by the swan.

The attacks happen most frequently during the nesting season when swans on the river are concerned about the safety of their cygnets. By the end of July there are usually far fewer reported instances, as the cygnets mature and leave the nests.

Mr Asbo has a penchant for attacking other river-users
Mr Asbo has a penchant for attacking other river-users

Philippa Noon of the Conservators of the River Cam described Mr Asbo as "a very clever mute swan. He's learned that the most vulnerable point on a rowing eight is the cox, and this bird directs his attention towards the cox.

"He's even learned to climb up on the riggers of the oars."

His actions have sometimes caused boats to collide or run into the riverbank.

And it is not just the small boats that have attracted the swan's attention. A number of white cruisers have also been chased - apparently because, from a distance, Mr Asbo may think that they resemble another swan gliding into his territory.

Hand-feeding

While many of the river-users are concerned by his unwanted attention, others, especially some of the houseboat residents, have defended Mr Asbo, saying that he has never given them any trouble.

Some of them have known him since he was a cygnet and occasionally give him food.

"That hasn't helped, actually," said Philippa Noon. "Hand-feeding could have exacerbated the situation as the swan has lost some its natural fear of humans.

"We think this bird's response has been heightened because it's used to receiving titbits from people.

"Wildlife should be left alone. Look, but do not touch."

Anger management

The committee of the Conservators voted against a motion to have the swan removed and said that they would work with the Wildlife Trust, local conservation organisations and volunteers to find a solution that would maintain the safety of river-users, without removing the swan from its home on the River Cam.

The Conservators will meet in January 2011 to determine whether further action needs to be taken to rein-in the wayward swan.

Mr Asbo, the swan, on the River Cam
River-users hope the swan will calm down once his cygnets leaves the nest.

They are also planning to monitor the ways the various river-users navigate the Cam, to try to determine whether the high number of vessels is having an adverse effect on wildlife.

In the meantime, a group of volunteers has agreed to monitor Mr Asbo and help to manage his behaviour, especially during periods of heavy river-usage, such as the Town Bumps, the rowing races which take place at the end of July each year.




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