WATCH: A trumpeter swan is alive today thanks to the aid of a Nanaimo man. Kendall Hanson has more.
Frank Vosshans and his wife were camping at the Living Forest Campground Sunday morning when something caught their attention.
“I saw a splash in the water and I thought a seal got a salmon but then after about 10 seconds, I saw another splash and it was in the same spot,” said Vosshans.
Vosshans grabbed his binoculars and realized a swan was trapped under a fishing net.
“He was in a lot of distress,” said Vosshans. “He was actually being pulled under by the net and he was only able to get a little bit of his head out of the water and catch a breath and then he would go under again.”
Vosshans went home, got his boat and put it into the water. Because the swan was struggling, he was able to go right up to the bird and start cutting the net. Once done the bird was limp and gurgling. Vosshans tilted him upside down and about a cup of water came out of its mouth.
“When we put him in the truck I said I don’t think he’s going to make it but we had to try.”
Vosshans took the swan to the closest veterinary hospital. Surveillance footage shows him bringing the bird in.
“Next thing I knew he was coming through the door with this limp package,” said Dr Ian Lawrie of Chase River Veterinary Hospital. “He had a trumpeter swan that was just non-responsive.”
The hospital X-rayed the swan. It was determined that there were no broken bones and there didn’t appear to be water in its lungs.
“Then we started looking for other things,” said Dr Lawrie. “That’s when we took his temperature and found out he was super cold about 34 degrees Celsius which is much below normal for them.”
They wrapped the swan in an infrared blanket. As the day wore on, the swan progressively improved to the point the vet felt he was ready to be released.
“A rare scenario for a wildlife recovery is that we have them go from destitute to ready to release within hours,” said Dr Lawrie. “It almost never works out that way.”
Seven hours later, the vet called Vosshans and the two released the swan close to where it had first got stuck.
“We all took a step back and the swan realized where he was and he took off like a shot,” said Vosshans. “It was amazing.”
The swan has been seen getting along with its flock quite well since.
Both men say it’s a reminder how outdoor activities carry responsibilities and even a lost fishing net can have a dire consequence on the animals that inhabited these lands first.