Sunday, May 27, 2012

Illinois Swan Song

A man in Illinois was killed by some Swans. There is the usual handwringing. There is no mention if one of the swans happened to be carrying a trumpet.

However, it should be noted that the man actually worked around the Swans, and the very existence of these swans is why he was employed. He was cleaning up after them. Swans are actually known to be temperamental brutes, and a mother swan guarding her nest (with her husbands help) is not to be trifled with.
Illinois Man Dies in Attack by Swans
David Ferguson, The Raw Story, 18 April 2012 (hat tip: NC)

Anthony Hensley, 37, paddled his kayak too close to the nest of a mother swan, who knocked the man from the boat and pursued him as he tried to swim for shore. Witnesses reported seeing two of the birds circling where Hensley went down for the last time.

People (humans) are relatively large animals, and we along with other primates have various situational advantages in leverage, and also the ability to throw things. But on a brute strength level, even moderately small animals are stronger than we are. Locally a couple of years ago a couple of big guys were trying to get a fawn (baby deer) out of a small shop that it had run into a store out of the shop. They wrestled with it, two against one, and lost. It was too strong. The deer eventually ran out on its own. Grown chimpanzees are said to be 3-times stronger than an adult male human. Given that geese use their wings to lift (lift via pressure differential) a large bird off the ground, one would imagine that their wings are likelier stronger than our arms, and possibly also our legs.

Obviously the goose-keeper was somewhat complacent about his work. It appears that the geese beat him up until he was exhausted and drown.
People just don’t take animals seriously anymore. You have the governor of Vermont trying to chase of a mother bear, and her cubs because they were eating up the bird food at a feeder.  He was chased back.  That was taking a risk on a high probability of a bad event.  But taking many small risks (like being in a kayak around nesting swans) adds up to the same level of risk eventually as the singular acts of stupidity.
Attacking Swan (from here)


PioneerPreppy said...

I remember reading about that and thinking the guy just didn't fight back and wore himself out trying to get away more than anything else. Also (I didn't re-read it just now so my memory maybe off) wasn't he wearing inappropriate attire for swimming as well?

Still your point is valid when dealing with critters don't give up our own human advantages and attempt to take them at their own strengths.

I should tell you the story of tagging white tails for the Mo. Conservation dept. when I was a teenager. One of the real agent guys got his boot lace tangled in one of the buck's antlers when it woke up early.

russell1200 said...

PP: I'll bet that was one surprised agent! LOL

The guy cleaning up the areas obviously didn't take them seriously, and probably overestimated his swiming ability on top of it. It was too easy to just not even bother with precautions. And of course, with a 1/1000 chance of the goose attacking, he would get by with his lack of precautions for a long time. But even 1 in a thousand gets to near certainty if you risk it often enough.