Dying swan saved after being shot

By on January 29, 2010

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—A swan found nearly dead from a gunshot wound will survive, thanks to being saved by a passerby and taken to the Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Elburn.

The bird was found a few weeks ago in a retention pond on the east side of St. Charles, in serious condition.

“He couldn’t get out of the water, and he didn’t have the strength to hold up his head,” said Andrea Krueger, an animal rehabilitator at the Wildlife Center.

The bullet had gone through the swan’s belly, as evidenced by entrance and exit wounds, and the bird had been suffering from the injury for some time before being rescued.

“It was very infected,” Krueger said.

At the Wildlife Center, he received antibiotics and is nearly recovered.

“He is doing good,” Krueger said. “He will be able to leave in about two weeks.”

The Fox Valley Wildlife Center is a nonprofit organization located in a former ranger house in Elburn Forest Preserve. The center rehabilitates injured wild animals so that they can be released back into their natural habitat.

The healed swan, however, will go to an individual that keeps swans in the winter and takes them to ponds in the area where they spend the rest of the year.

“We don’t know if this is a wild swan. He’s pretty tame,” Krueger said.

Since being rescued, the swan has spent his days at the Wildlife Center swimming in the bath tub and munching on lettuce and other treats in his own room. The reason the bird is kept isolated is so that he does not have too much contact with people, which could thwart the rehabilitation process, said Kaitlin Zordan, education coordinator for the Wildlife Center.

However, his progress is being closely monitored by volunteers and staff at the center.

“We want to make sure he will be able to manage on his own in the future,” Krueger said.

St. Charles Police Department spokesman Paul McCurtin said if an officer had caught someone shooting the swan, the offender would be arrested for discharging a weapon within city limits and fined up to $500. If lacking a firearm license, the offender would face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Photo: Part of the rehabilitation at Fox Valley Wildlife Center for this rescued swan is spending time in the bathtub to regain his swimming strength. The Elburn organization, including staffer Kaitlin Zordan, brought the swan back to health after he was found near death in a retention pond in St. Charles after being shot.
Photo by Martha Quetsch