Aragorn to be re-homed in new waters

MICHELLE SUTTON
Last updated 12:30 20/10/2012
Aragon
BULLY BIRD: Aragorn the swan has a habit of attacking people near the Matai River, and calls have been made for him to be relocated elsewhere.

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This weekend may be Aragorn's swansong in Nelson. The aggressive white swan, which is known for having a go at people and dogs, will be relocated from its home on the Maitai River by the Department of Conservation and SPCA.

The relocation decision follows Aragorn's latest attack against a woman whitebaiting on the river last week. The swan has set upon numerous children, adults and dogs along the river during breeding season - spring and summer.

It has also been subjected to attacks including being bitten by a dog.

DOC bio-diversity manager Bruce Vander Lee said the relocation could take place as early as next week, but it depended on several factors.

"We have been doing a fair bit of work on this to act quickly. We don't want it to get worse.

"We are working to move the swan to a new location as soon as possible."

The SPCA would also be involved with the capture and relocation of Aragorn, which would take place when few people were around. The less stress for the swan, the better, Mr Vander Lee said.

Public opinion has been divided as to whether Aragorn should stay on the Maitai River, but an unofficial online poll at nelsonmail.co.nz shows 68.2 per cent of readers voted that the Maitai River was too dangerous for the swan, while another 31.8 per cent thought it was Aragorn's home and he should stay. There were 239 votes.

The decision is supported by Natureland Zoo owner Gail Sutton. "Great - for his own safety he needs to be relocated and around other swans so he can find a mate," Mrs Sutton said.

"It's a great outcome for the swan," SPCA animal inspector Craig Crowley said.

"There's lots of people in Nelson that will still want the swan to stay on the river and I understand why they want him, because it's been a part and parcel with the river for a long time, but at least he can go somewhere and he can find a mate in breeding season."

The swan would be moved to a private property with access to a lake, on the east coast of the South Island, Mr Vander Lee said.

DOC had received two offers to relocate the swan to private properties, one on the east coast of the South Island and the other in the lower South Island.

"We like the place we've chosen because it allows Aragorn to be around other swans, but also gives him space to get away if there's any aggression."

His new home was chosen ahead of Tasman Bay locations because Aragorn had been re-homed in the bay before, but had escaped and swum back to the Maitai River, Mr Vander Lee said.

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Mr Crowley would be involved in catching Aragorn. He had previously handled the swan, capturing it when it was injured so it could recuperate at Natureland Zoo. "Once I pick him up he's always been easy to handle, he's never aggressive. I'm happy DOC has the animal's best interests at heart," Mr Crowley said.

He was happy to follow the lead of DOC, as the swan's legal owner.

Mr Vander Lee was discussing with the property owners whether they wanted to be publicly identified.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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