Dealing with swans

I paddle around Toronto on Lake Ontario, every once in a while when the lake is rough I like to paddle on rivers that feed into the lake. Unfortunately, I’m bumping into protective and territorial swans. Even when I leave them a wide birth, they seem to make straight for me. Low in the water in my sea kayak…they’re like a demonic version of big bird.

I usually turn around to avoid a confrontation but this pisses me off as I’ve had to cut my outings short sometimes.

Shout I give them a whack with the paddle? BB gun? Or just go full speed at them and show them who’s boss?

I’ve even had one chase me for a kilometer.

Advise appreciated!

One or the other
Either you don’t give a damn about nature and whack it with your paddle, killing it.

Or leave the nesting swans alone.

Attack them before they do you
They are bullies and might run if you paddle directly at the offending swan. Wave the paddle, use an air horn, use bear spray and wear a helmet. The bones in their wings can hurt you.

Sometimes its just not possible to avoid them I remember some paddle to wing fights in Connecticut on the Mystic River.

better then a alligator
but i think you will have no luck with swans they are kinda just that way

I haven’t had swan problems, but I’ve
convinced nesting canada geese to lay off. I turn and head right at the charging goose.

Once I know where a nest is, I try to avoid it, but when I see a surprise attack coming, charging back at them is at least as safe as cowering in the boat.

After nesting season, it’s not a problem.

lots of geese on lainer
not sure if they ever leave seems like i see em all year the babys are cute

Ontario Swans
I’ve paddled around some of Toronto’s island’s and

had a few run ins with swans. They don’t back down

and I don’t blame them, it’s where they live and nest.

I would sugguest taking a bigger berth around or

paddle some where else. How would you like a swan

entering your back yard and wacking you with a paddle

or hitting you with some bb’s!

I have seen paddle charging
work well with alligators…but I have seen one bite back too.

Two possibilities

– Last Updated: May-05-11 12:06 AM EST –

Depending on the swan species, I might not worry too much about wacking them. Chances are they are mute swans, and in that case I'd say go right ahead and wack them. Mindless nature-lovers will hate you for it, but real nature lovers won't care. Mute swans are very destructive, at least in some locations, because they compete with and displace native species that should be considered more valuable. If they weren't so "pretty" they'd be treated like starlings instead of something special.

If you don't go for that idea, try an umbrella. It seems like anything that would suddenly make you "bigger" might do the trick. Trigger the umbrella to "blow up" with just a second or two to spare for maximum startle effect. Of course if it doesn't work, the umbrella will probably get trashed, but it seems like it would be worth a try.

Mute swans are an invasive
I remember some years back a Nature Conservancy person advised me and some others to feel free to addle the eggs…that is if we could get our hands on them without being injured ourselves.

Looking at some states control measures now there is egg addling,euthanasia and shooting.

Did you know that black swan eggs used to be a part of Ovaltine in some areas?

Reminds me of “A Christmas Story”…

Jay, when I come to those islands,
the swans will back down. And they’ll be none the worse for it. They belong on their nests, not harassing other species when there isn’t even a real threat to their nesting.

Use the right words…
If they are approaching, you have to say - very sternly

SIT! or STAY! If that doesn’t work just repeat them. Usually they get the message.

This has worked every time for me.

Use a short length of rope or a paddle.

If a rope, swing it in slow circles over your head. If a paddle, point it at the swan and slowly move it in an arc. This seems to provide a “circle of protection” and the swans seem to respect it.

Don’t try to do battle with the bird. In some states (Michigan at least), it’s a very large fine.

Must be a CT thing…
That brings back the memory of a particular swan someone in our kayak club named “Uncle Nasty” about 10 years ago. He hung out in Selden Creek, off the Connecticut River, and was a particularly aggressive thing. He bit 2 paddlers I know, and attacked just about any small craft that came his way.

I was out paddling with an old friend of mine, and we headed up Selden Creek. As we got towards the northern end of the creek, there was Uncle Nasty - and he charged us by flying just inches above water level. Well, my buddy Ken wasn’t backing down, and grabbed his GP like a baseball bat and started moving it from side to side, saying “C’mon you SOB - you’re an invasive species, and I’m an environmental engineer for the government”…I sat there laughing as the swan veeed off course, landed on the water, and then started following us until we were out of his domain.

And Ken would have killed him without hesitation if he got close enough. I still laugh thinking about the incident - you really had to see it.

swans …
…might be a " protected" bird where you live. Be careful about “whacking” them unless you are truly under attack by them or every bleeding heart animal activist will be after you and wanting you arrested. Personally , I say whack them , but gently.

Will Rogers technique
If you’ve been trained at the Southwest Lasso Symposium, you should be able to loop the bird as he dive bombs by, using a sub-clavial bridle knot.

This will also allow the beast to tow you, so long as maximum hull speed of your canoe is less than the square root of the mass of the bird.

If legal in your town, daisy cutters are effective.

Try pointing a flare gun at them

Do Nothing Aggressive
Swans tend to return to the same place every year and they learn and adapt. Being aggressive to them will make them worse. We had a pair on Lake Lansing where I live who would get aggressive if you came near their nest. Stupid motor boaters started buzzing them and they began coming out further and further, extending the area that they protected. The DNR finally shot them.

I always have a shotgun in my canoe…so they dont concern me much. Swans can be a little testy but hey…screw them! One time on the estuary here there were a bunch of swans and they were MEAN! I was fishing with a buddy…I had my shot gun and he has a revolver in his tackle box. We had the best time shooting any swan that tried charging us. Oh boy, that place was littered with swan bodies floating all over the place when we were done with em LOL. I still get a chuckle thinking about it.

…or a camera.
Oops. Wrong thread.