MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of people came together to rescue a sick swan from the ice — and it’s all captured on video.

The swan had been seen stuck in the ice since earlier this week, and it was showing signs of lead poisoning.

A group of rescuers braved the cold St. Croix River Tuesday afternoon and did what they could to give the swan a second chance.

“We noticed which one it was right away,” rescuer Noah Gausman said. “There were symptoms and signs of lead poisoning.”

Gausman got in his kayak to try and save the swan. Bystanders had noticed the bird had become frozen in the ice, and other swans were trying to peck at the ice to free it.

It was a rare scene, but one that worked. The swan broke free, and that’s when Gausman went on a sort of “wild goose chase” to corral the swan.

After several minutes in the freezing river, the rescue was complete.

“I paddled up to it. All it takes is a light touch and they stop right there,” Gausman said. “We want to give it every chance we can. It could have been out here another couple weeks. It would have starved and ultimately it would have died.”

But the future is still bleak. The swan was rushed to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville.

And like so many before it, lead poisoning was the diagnosis.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“We have two smaller pieces of lead and a larger piece here,” veterinary technician Addie Evans said.

It only takes one small pellet to cause problems.

Executive Director Phil Jenni says younger swans swallow lead at the bottom of rivers because it looks like food.

If a swan does survive, it can take months to recover.

“For me, seeing lead poisoning is one of the worst things that we see,” Jenni said. “They don’t feel like moving because they are so sick.”

While lead shot is no longer allowed for water fowl hunters, fishermen are still allowed to use lead sinkers.

But the Wildlife Rehab Center is encouraging anglers to use sinkers that don’t contain lead, even though the cost may be a little more.

John Lauritsen

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