STOCKTON Council monitoring a stretch of the River Tees following the deaths of 23 swans.

The deaths have all happened since last Wednesday (July 28) near Moat Street in Stockton.

The deaths are strongly suspected to have been caused by avian botulism, a paralytic and often fatal disease caused by toxins in the water.

Incidents of the disease can occur in water anywhere but are temporary and they are more frequent during warm summers.

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There is a very low risk to humans and pets, but Stockton Council are suggesting that people keep pets away from any dead or distressed birds.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, Councillor Steve Nelson, said: “We’re saddened by the deaths of the swans and are asking people to take a few precautions.

“Obviously, the first is to stay out of the water yourself – we strongly advise this at all times anyway but this is just another reason to do so, alongside the other dangers like currents and cold water shock.

“If you’re walking your dog close to the area where the swans have died, we’re advising you to keep them on a short lead and away from the water.

“We’re asking people not to feed any of the swans or any other birds at the site because adding organic material to the water can just make the problem worse.

“We’ve also contacted the clubs and organisations that use this area of the river to make them aware so they can provide guidance to their members.

“Councils aren’t primarily responsible for the country’s rivers but we are monitoring the situation very closely.”

You can contact the Council’s Environmental Health team on 01642 526575 or the RSPCA if you spot a bird which has died or looks unwell.

There is now safety signage at the location visible to the public placed by Animal Welfare colleagues.

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