Multiple young swans have died after cooking oil was “illegally dumped” into the River Soar.
Three cygnets are believed to have perished in the 3km stretch of the river affected by the oil, the RSPCA has said.
They closely followed the deaths of six cygnets which had been affected by another pollutant in the water in the same area.
The Environment Agency was called to the stretch, between Belgrave and Birstall, last week after the oil was seen in the water and covering a pair of swans.
After an investigation, Severn Trent Water and the Environment Agency discovered that the pollutant was cooking oil and reported that it had “illegally dumped” through the sewage network by a third party.
Today, the RSPCA said it had been called to rescue a family of swans from the area near the National Space Centre, in Belgrave, Leicester, on Wednesday, July 22.
Two officers from the animal welfare charity rescued two swans and two cygnets which were covered in the substance.
RSPCA inspector Richard Durant, who rescued the swans along with inspector Sally Kearns and animal collection officer Jack Curran, said: “These poor birds were covered in cooking oil and needed a good clean and some TLC, so I took them to the local wildlife hospital for care.
“Sadly, it has been reported to us that there were four cygnets with this family of swans, so it is believed that two of the young may have died as a result of the substance.
“It’s unclear at the moment whether this substance ended up in the river accidentally or on purpose but this is the second pollutant which has affected swans in the area in the last couple of months.”
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The following day, Thursday, July 23, the RSPCA was called to rescue another pair of swans with a cygnet, but this time further up the River Soar, near the Red Hill Circle area.
They were transported to the wildlife hospital, but the cygnet died on Friday.
These latest incidents come after there were reports of swans covered in a green or blue substance on the same river, close to B&M in Belgrave, Leicester, on June 6.
One swan was rescued, but six of the bird’s cygnets had already died.
LeicestershireLive has asked the Environment Agency what the substance was, how it came to be in the water and whether any action is being taken in relation to it.
The surviving swans are now recovering well at Leicestershire Wildlife Hospital, said an RSPCA spokesperson.
A clean-up operation to remove the oil from the water started at the end of last week.
A spokeswoman for Severn Trent said: “Our specialist teams have been on site all over the weekend working to get the river back to normal following the third party illegal dumping of oil into our sewer network.
“We’re continuing to work closely with the Environment Agency, and will be searching for those responsible so we can work with them to prevent this from happening again.
“We’ve now cleaned up a lot of the area that was affected, and now our priority will be to make sure the rest of the river, and our sewer outfall, is back to normal as quickly as possible.”
If anyone has any information about this incident or spots a swan or any animal in need of help, contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.