City workers corral Lakeland swans for annual veterinarian check-up

Population lower due to spring thieves

LAKELAND, Fla. - It's the one day a year where Lake Morton sits swan-free, while more than 60 of the resident swans get their annual physical.

The City of Lakeland has been doing the swan roundup for more than 30 years.  They start by picking up the swans the day before and keeping them locked in a pen so they're ready to go the day of their visit with the vet.

Doctor Patricia Mattson and her team from Companion Animal Hospital donated their time to make sure all the swans have a clean bill of health.

City workers formed a production line of sorts, holding the birds so they could be weighed, scanned for their microchip, and then held down to get poked and prodded.

"These are good because they're easy to handle, they're used to being around people because people come down to the lake all the time," Mattson said.  "It's harder to catch them up, than it is to examine them."

It took most of the morning for the team to get through all 67 swans.

Mattson said most appeared healthy.  She said one of the swans was very thin, so they're going to do some blood work to find out what's wrong.

"The main thing we've been seeing is some feet lesions," she said.

One big difference this year is the number of baby swans, called cygnets. Usually there are up to 10, but this year there were only two.

This spring more than 30 swan eggs went missing.

Police eventually arrested a man for stealing some soon-to-be-hatched eggs, but investigators aren't sure who took the others.

City officials don't believe it will impact the overall population in Lakeland, but this year they definitely won't have more than necessary, like in past years.

"We've got many private lakes and even other municipalities that have lakes in their downtown areas that would buy swans from us, this year we're not going to have any to sell," said Kevin Cook, spokesman for the city.

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