A swan who was found covered in petrol is on the road to recovery at an RSPCA wildlife centre.

The swan was rescued by a team of RSPCA officers using a boat on a lake in Gerards Lane, St Helens, on Wednesday, 9 August, after a member of the public spotted the oil-covered bird on a bank. An empty petrol can was also recovered from the lake.

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An RSPCA officer took the bird to the charity’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, where she has since undergone an intensive clean.

She has now been transferred from the centre’s isolation unit to an outdoor pool, where she will be monitored by staff. It is hoped she will be released back into the wild soon.

Lee Stewart, manager at Stapeley Grange, said: “When the swan came into us she had petrol all underneath her body and on her neck – she also smelled strongly of fuel.

“If oil is not removed from waterbirds it reduces the natural waterproofing in their plumage, leaving them at risk of dying from hypothermia. Every bird is assessed on arrival and sometimes several deep cleans are needed to remove all the contaminate. It can be fairly labor intensive sometimes taking two members of staff 30 minutes for each wash.

“Thankfully this particular swan only needed the one wash. She is definitely on the road to recovery and will soon be returned to the wild.

“But it is frustrating to think that this poor swan could have been spared so much distress if this irresponsible person disposed of their petrol legally and properly.”

The wildlife centre is always in need of donations of Fairy original liquid which is used to wash oiled birds.

“We used a third of a bottle of Fairy liquid to clean this swan, so as you can imagine we get through our stockpile of Fairy liquid pretty quickly as it works really well,” said Lee.

Donations can be dropped off at the wildlife centre in London Road, Nantwich, or at a donation point situated at Sainsbury’s in Nantwich, which supports the centre.

The RSPCA would recommend anyone who sees pollution on water or land to call the Environment Agency 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Concerns for a wild animal that has come into contact with oil or other contaminants should be reported to the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.

The RSPCA is a charity relies on public donations to exist. Anyone who would like to support the vital work of Stapeley Grange can text RSPCA2 to 70007. Texts cost £3 + standard network rate.