Aer Rianta to clip swans' wings

Low-flying swans are proving such a nuisance to planes landing at Shannon airport that they are to have their wings clipped.

Low-flying swans are proving such a nuisance to planes landing at Shannon airport that they are to have their wings clipped.

Air traffic control at Shannon airport reported 14 incidents involving the birds last year, the most serious forcing an aircraft to overshoot the runway and come back again to land.

Now officials are planning to move the swans further down the Shannon estuary - and will clip their wings in a bid to stop them returning.

Vincent Wall, spokesman for Aer Rianta, said a breed called the mute swan had inhabited a nearby lagoon for a number of years.

He said: “The swans are a growing problem down there and they are growing in numbers.

“It is a potential danger when there are large birds flying over the runway.”

Initially the airport management company wanted to drain the lagoon to a lower water level to make it less attractive for swans to land there.

But the plans were blocked by heritage body Dúchas, which said it was a special conservation area.

If they were to drain it down to the level of a swamp they would have to create an alternative wetland habitat in the area.

“We tried putting ropes and buoys on the lagoon but that didn’t work,” said Mr Wall.

“Now we are going to have to lure the swans into cages to clip their wings and then move them further down the estuary.”

He said this was only a temporary measure and that the wings would grow back quickly.

“What we are worried about is that they are mute swans, which means they tend to come back to the same place. We don’t know whether this will be an effective solution to the problem.”

Mr Wall said all large airports had “bird management strategies“, and many used bangers to discourage them from nesting.

“There are bird issues at all airports,” he said. “We recently had a problem with carrier pigeons at Dublin airport and had to use bangers to keep them away.”

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