By Mitchell Clarke
Temporary fencing has been implemented around a swan nest at Lakeside, after crowds of people with young children and dogs failed to observe the animals from afar.
Keen spectators have been spotted swan watching, trying to get a glimpse of the newest additions of the resident swan family – but experts are warning people to steer clear of nesting sites at all times.
Anyone who comes across swans, or any native wildlife is urged to keep their distance, according to Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) senior wildlife management officer, Rebecca Dixon.
“Black swans, like many native birds, will defend a territory or water body from intruders if they perceive a threat,” Ms Dixon said.
The warning follows various reports of swans becoming aggressive towards people, including one incident where a swan was filmed “attacking” the car of a woman who had pulled over to look at the birds from a distance.
The Department said swans could often become particularly confrontational towards people when nesting.
“Harassing animals in their habitat causes distress and for them to feel threatened,” Ms Dixon said.
“This can lead to unpredictable behaviour which may cause people or the animal harm.”
Lakeside Residents Group president Wendy Andrews witnessed groups of people crowding the edge of the nest as the eggs started to slowly hatch.
“People have been out at the nest with their children and dogs, and in some cases dogs have been barking at the swans,” she explained.
“That particular nest is very close to the edge so I think people should’ve just given the animals some room and admired them from afar.
“These are wild animals and they’re big enough to take out a child’s eye or worse, that’s how serious a swan attack could be.”
Within days, Cardinia Shire Council had implemented temporary fencing around the nest in a bid to avoid people getting too close.
Central Ward councillor Michael Schilling said people should enjoy the local wildlife, but in a manner that was respectful.
“Please enjoy all that our local wildlife has to offer, and embrace these rare moments when we see our local swans caring for their young,” Cr Schilling said.
“It’s magnificent to walk around our lake and witness this happening first hand, however with recent events, it’s important to keep our dogs on leads and enjoy our wildlife from a distance, trying to minimise any stress or disruption to them.”