Greater Napanee firefighters rescue stuck swan

GNES Fire Prevention Officer and firefighter Kevin Duncan carries the swan after it was rescued.

Who comes to the rescue when one of the “seven swans a-swimming” gets trapped in an icy river? Luckily for this swan, its harrowing holiday adventure had a happy ending thanks to Greater Napanee Emergency Services (GNES).

Around 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, GNES fire crews, with the assistance of an animal control officer and concerned civilians, successfully rescued a swan that had been frozen into an icy waterway near the 4500 block of County Road 9.

“GNES responded to a swan frozen to the ice, with civilians attempting a rescue,” said Deputy Fire Chief Bill Hammond. Hammond said that the swan was extricated without incident, and animal control officer Josh Matson subsequently transported the swan to a local wild animal care facility.

Sue Meech, Director of Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre, where the swan was taken after the rescue, says the swan is doing very well. “It’s very active,” said Meech, “it’s staying in the aquatic centre, which is built especially for water birds, and it’s nice and quiet there.”

GNES rescuing a swan from the frozen river.

Meech says that they are still doing tests on the swan and investigating whether it might have some health issues. “Healthy swans don’t usually get stuck like that,” said Meech. “We did some x-rays, which were negative, and we did some blood tests. Sometimes birds have lead poisoning, but it had low lead levels. We still have to check for parasites.”

Meech said that this particular bird was still quite young, and that it’s possible it simply had trouble finding enough food to sustain itself. “It’s been eating a lot of greens – spring mix – and will be eating a lot of it over Christmas,” said Meech. Sandy Pines would welcome donations of spring mix greens to help keep the young swan well-fed.

Meech thanked the community for its support throughout the year, which enables Sandy Pines to take care of injured or orphaned wildlife until they are healthy enough to be released back into the wild. The centre has been in operation for over 25 years, and has an average of 400 animals in care each day. The centre is a registered charity, and operates by way of donations, bequests, and fundraising events, with no government funding. Those wishing to donate to the centre may do so online through Those wishing to donate by cheque may use Sandy Pines’ mail-in donation form.

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