Condo residents seek donations to benefit sick swan

Residents at Caswell Cove in Milford are raising money to help with the recovery of a swan that got sick last week after it got stuck in an aeration tank at the nearby wastewater treatment facility.

Caswell Cove Association President Dotti Bateman said the swan is being treated for respiratory issues at the Wildlife in Crisis nature center in Weston after swallowing sewage from the tank. The swan, according to Bateman, is one that lives near the condominiums, and among a group that residents refer to as “our swans.”

Milford’s wastewater division, firefighters and animal control teamed up to rescue the swan from the aeration tank last week.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the swan was found floating in one of the aeration tanks at the Housatonic treatment plant, wastewater officials said.

An aeration tank is a tank in which air is added to wastewater to allow “aerobic bio-degradation” to remove pollutants from the water.

Several wastewater employees and animal control officers tried to get the swan out of the tank area but had no luck. Then they tried to get the swan to come close to the edge by feeding it bread, hoping it would fly away or at least try to get out of the tank itself.

They thought the swan would find its own way free later that evening. But when the wastewater workers arrived for work on Thursday, Oct. 6, the swan was still in the tank and very dirty and weak, officials said.

“It was trying to clean itself off but was not able to,” they said in a letter thanking the fire department and animal control for ultimately rescuing the swan. “At this point it was very close to the grinder which is very dangerous. It was very tired, so it was decided that the fire department should be called to see if they could help.”  

Firefighters eventually were able to capture the swan in a net and bring it to safety. They hosed off the swan as best they could. Animal Control officers returned, wrapped the swan in a blanket to keep it warm and brought it to Wildlife in Crisis in Weston, a non-profit organization dedicated to wildlife preservation and land conservation.

Joyce Ruocco at Milford’s wastewater division said the swan seemed scared at first, but was very calm when taken out of the tank and seemed to enjoy the attention and comfort.

Bateman shared news about the wayward swan with other condominium residents this weekend through an email. She said she hopes the swan will be returned when it is healthy.

Peter Reid, assistant director of Wildlife in Crisis in Western Connecticut, is confident the swan will recover.

“He seems to be doing okay, resting comfortably,” Reid said.

The swan, which Reid said is a yearling, is being treated with medication for a fungal infection.

Condominium residents have been keeping track of and feeding the group of swans that live outside the condominiums, which overlook the Housatonic River.

“We've watched them grow and we all do a headcount whenever we see them,” Bateman said. “So as soon as one was missing, word spread like wildfire. We feel like a bunch of swan parents.”

She asked residents to send a donation to the Wildlife In Crisis Center, Newtown Turnpike, Weston, CT 06883 in the name of the Caswell Cove Swan or go to wildlifeincrisis.com to make a donation.

Swans are non-native to Connecticut, and most of the swans here probably originated in Great Britain. Reid said they were brought here as “decorative” birds.