Aragorn's Maitai swansong

MICHELLE SUTTON
Last updated 14:17 23/10/2012
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

Swan Aragorn is captured on the Maitai River by Department of Conservation staff members Ross Maley, left, Bruce Vander Lee and Mike Morrisey with the help of fellow DOC and SPCA staff.

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Nelson's aggressive swan, Aragorn, went peacefully as he was caught on the Maitai River yesterday in preparation for a move to Kaikoura.

The swan, infamous for attacking dogs and children, never even made a sound or put up a fight when it was caught by a group including Department of Conservation and SPCA officers.

The 10.45am capture, near the Riverside Pool, was applauded by a small group of onlookers.

Aragorn was ushered into shallower water, then trapped using a net, before DOC Kaikoura ranger Mike Morrissey gently folded it up in his arms and placed it into a cage.

"As soon as I got him and picked him up he was easy, he was really relaxed," Mr Morrissey said.

"I catch a lot of seals and he was a lot easier than seals. He didn't bite back."

Department of Conservation bio-diversity manager Bruce Vander Lee said he was pleased the capture went smoothly.

"We wanted to manoeuvre him into shallow water because he has the advantage in deep water, being able to duck and swim, but it went well. The main thing was to get his head and neck under control as soon as we dropped the net on him for his own safety."

Mr Morrissey was driving Aragorn to his new home at the Kaikoura Adventure Park where a fenced private paddock awaited.

Mr Vander Lee said he was aware many people would be sad to see the swan leave the Maitai River, but his new home would provide a better environment.

"The good thing is the park has several paddocks and is prepared for him.

"This is the last resort for DOC, we don't like to move animals, but we think it's justified in this case," he said.

The decision to relocate Aragorn was made last week after the swan's latest attack left a woman whitebaiter struggling for breath as it set upon her in the river. Previously Aragorn has been attacked by a dog on the river and was known to attack people during swan breeding season - spring and summer.

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- Nelson

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