UPDATE: Two swans, one arrow

‘He’s still swimming around the pond the poor guy’


UPDATED: There’s a special place at the bottom of Oak Swamp Pond for someone with a bow and quiver full of black arrows with blue and white fletching.

Rhode Island Environmental Police searched the Johnston pond Wednesday morning for a swan someone shot with an arrow.

Sean Carpenter knows the pair of beautiful white birds well.

“There are two swans that live and nest on Oak Swamp Pond in Johnston,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “Someone has shot the male with a bow and arrow and an arrow is currently protruding from his side. He’s still swimming around the pond, the poor guy.”

Carpenter shared a photo of the injured bird. He notified the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Environmental Police around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Evan LaCross, Public Affairs and Programming Services Officer for DEM confirmed the department received Carpenter’s report.

“Environmental Police Officers from DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement will be attempting to locate the swan this morning,” LaCross said early Wednesday morning.

Environmental Police may need witnesses to charge the responsible archer.

“Although there is no open season on mute swans in Rhode Island, we would need a witness statement in order to charge for hunting a non-game species,” according to LaCross. “The unlawful killing of a swan can result in a misdemeanor charge which is punishable by a fine of up to $500, up to 90 days in prison, or both.”

Carpenter lives nearby the pond, and walks his dog along the waterside.

“The swans have been living on the pond for the past 3-4 years and even spend the winter,” Carpenter said. “They nest in a swampy cove in the back of the pond that’s behind my house.”

He visits them practically every day.

“The female sits on the nest and the male wanders the pond — chasing geese,” he said. “So he goes all over the pond.”

Earlier this week, it was apparent all was not well in the swan’s nest.

“Yesterday, they were together at the nest and I immediately noticed the arrow,” Carpenter said. “So it must have happened around Monday.  He … didn’t seem in distress.  As you could see it was sticking out of his side. He was eating like normal but occasionally had his head down so not sure if he was getting at it.”

Carpenter spotted the injured swan “back in the center of the pond later in the day before sunset.”

Rhode Island classifies mute swans  (Cygnus olor) as an exotic species. According to DEM, the species is “native to Europe and parts of Asia and was introduced into North America as decorative waterfowl for parks, zoos, and private.”

Swans form long-lasting bonds and some mate for life. When a swan dies, the surviving bird typically grieves the loss, like people. Sometimes, depending on the survivor’s age, the swan will find a new mate or fly off and join a flock. But sometimes, that’s it. The end.

Two swans, and maybe many more, with a single arrow.

On Wednesday afternoon, LaCross responded to the Johnston Sun Rise with an update on the swan’s condition.

“A resident who lives on the pond removed the arrow from the swan before an Environmental Police Officer from DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement arrived this morning,” LaCross announced around 12:30 p.m. “Thankfully, it appeared to be a non-fatal superficial wound that the swan should be able to recover from on its own.”

DEM and Environmental Police are hoping a witness to the shooting comes forward.

“Members of the public who have any information about who may have shot the arrow at the swan should report it to DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement’s 24-hour dispatch at 401-222-3070,” according to LaCross.


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