Swan lake! Crippled cygnet saved in Prospect Park

Swan lake! Crippled cygnet saved in Prospect Park
Photo by Oleg Priymak

It was nearly curtains for Groucho the swan on Monday — but two Prospect Park advocates saved the creature from becoming duck soup.

The sorry cygnet — a young swan — managed to get a fishing hook buried deep in its mouth, a predicament experts say would have spelled doom for the bird as it would have been unable to eat.

A friend called park advocate Ed Bahlman late on Monday with the news, and he and wildlife rehabilitator Anne-Katrin Titze were at the lake first thing Tuesday morning, armed with moxie and a set of needle-nosed pliers.

Using cobra-like quickness, Bahlman was able to extract the bird from the water with his bare hands. Titze then used the tool to gingerly dislodge the hook.

“You have to be very calm,” Bahlman said of the extractions. “The bird has to trust you.”

The duo dubbed the bird Groucho because a piece of wood was caught up in the fishing line and dangling from the bird’s beak, reminiscent of the comedian’s trademark cigar.

As in the past, the culprits in this case appear to be outlaw fishers using barbed hooks, forbidden in the park. It is illegal to harm park wildlife, so fishermen rarely report their misdeeds, intentional or accidental, leaving waterfowl lovers to save the birds on an ad hoc basis.

Prospect Park Alliance spokesman Eugene Patron said Parks Department officers can issue summonses for fishing with barbed hooks, but he was unsure to what extent these officers patrol in the winter months.

If you see an injured animal, you should call 311 or tell Parks personnel, Patron said.