A petition set up urging Bexley Council to take stronger action to protect water birds after the death of a swan in a local park has already amassed more than 1,000 signatures.
Local wildlife enthusiast Donna Zimmer set the petition up in the wake of visiting Danson Park after the death of a male swan over the weekend, which was attributed by the RSPCA to a dog attack.
While at the park, Ms Zimmer said she witnessed the swan’s still living partner and two cygnets being harassed by dogs.
“I was horrified to observe after only minutes of arriving a dog diving in causing great anxiety for the swan and her young. She defended them but looked exhausted,” Ms Zimmer said.
“Luckily there were a few of us to ask the owner politely to immediately remove their dog.”
She said she witnessed another four dogs jump into the lake and swim towards the swan, saying each time the owners thought their dogs hadn’t done anything wrong.
“This type of persecution is illegal by law, and doing nothing to prevent further killings is unacceptable,” she wrote.
The petition, which surpassed 1,000 signatures on Thursday, calls for Bexley Council to put a Public Spaces Protection Order around the lake at Danson Park and other parks with water birds in the borough, by enforcing dog owners to keep their dog on a lead within a specified area.
This order could then be enforced by the council being able to issue a fixed penalty notice if owners fail to keep their dog on a lead or a greater sum if it goes to court.
After the initial incident involving the male swan, Bexley Council asked dog owners to keep their pets on leads in all parks and open spaces to encourage social distancing between park users.
“If park users have concerns over dogs in any of our parks they should report them to the police,” the council added.
The news comes as parks police search for a man after a cygnet died on Thursday after suffering “severe” head injuries in Richmond Park, Richmond upon Thames.
A suspect, a 5ft 6in (168cm), grey-haired white male aged around 60 years old was also seen to kick another cygnet.
The petition can be viewed at https://www.change.org/p/bexley-council-protect-swans-and-other-water-birds-in-bexley-borough?recruiter=953763847&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=share_petition