Dumping danger for park swans

Heartbreaking images have emerged of discarded plastic and the threat it poses to wildlife in the Lisburn area.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 3:24 pm

Photos of plastic bottles and bags littered around Duncan’s Dam show how Lisburn is suffering from the waste blight.

In one of the shocking images a swan is seen eating what appears to be a plastic bag.

In another, a swan can be seen feeding on other material right beside a plastic bottle.

Alliance Cllr Sorcha Eastwood posted the pictures online.

She said she was “disgusted”, adding that littering been an issue in the area for several months.

“I had asked council months ago to get the Lagan Valley Park Ranger to bring the canoe down to try and get some of the rubbish out of the water- which they did last week and its been great,” the Castlereagh South Councillor said.

“Unfortunately within a matter of days, the rubbish had accumulated again at the Weir which is where the swans are pictured trying to eat the bags.

“They were also trying to eat smaller bits of plastic that couldnt be picked up in the photo.

“These beautiful birds are in danger of choking on bag handles. choking on waste and the micro plastics that breakdown from littered items is slowly poisoning them.”

SDLP representative Pat Catney said he would be in contact with the council and other agencies to help curb the repeated dumping incidents at the site.

Writing on social media, the Lagan Valley MLA said: “Up for the big clean-up [on Sunday] morning with the Friends of Duncan’s Dam group.

“Just look at some of the stuff we found – disgusting dumping! I’ll be talking to Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and the other agencies about what more we can do to stop this repeat problem and help to make this spot the best it can be.”

Experts say that plastics usually stay in the gut of animals once eaten, often becoming tangled inside and potentially causing a slow painful death.

Meanwhile, the Lisburn Castlereagh City Council said an “in-depth clean” of the dam was due to take place at the end of the month. 

A spokesperson for LCCC added: “The area in and around Duncan’s Dam is cleaned and cleared of litter by Council staff several times per week. Staff also use long reach poles and canoes to retrieve more difficult to reach litter periodically.

“The most recent such clean was two weeks ago.  An in-depth clean of Duncan’s Dam is planned before the end of March which will also involve clearing the water flow through the Dam.

“We have also been engaging with and supporting a group of local volunteers, called ‘Friends of Duncan’s Dam’ who at the weekend gathered 30 bags of litter from the site.

“Such acts by local volunteer groups are welcomed and we would encourage further initiatives across the Council area

“Our parks and green spaces are for the enjoyment of everyone. We work hard to keep them clean and safe and to protect the animals that inhabit them.

“We would ask everyone to respect these beautiful areas when visiting by taking their litter home or putting it in the bins provided.”