Parks Department investigating possible Prospect Park swan death

A puddle of blood and feathers were found on the bank of the Prospect Park Lake.

The Parks Department is investigating the possible death of a Prospect Park swan after a puddle of blood and feathers were discovered near the lake last month, a spokeswoman said.

Mary Beth Artz, one of the founders of W.I.L.D. for Prospect Park, an advocacy group that has been regularly cleaning up the area around the park’s lake since 2011, made the discovery of the blood on July 8, she said.

She had been doing a routine check of the area, looking for anything that could be dangerous to wildlife, such as fishhooks or litter, when she saw the blood on the bank of the lake, near the Vanderbilt Street entrance of the park.

When Artz, of Windsor Terrace, saw the blood and the feathers, she initially thought it might have been from a chicken, but she realized the white feathers were too big to be chicken feathers.

“I did a head count of the swans and one was missing,” she said, adding that there had been nine adult swans but there are now only eight. There are also four cygnets, or young swans, in the lake. Artz quickly reported what she found to the Parks Department and the police, she said.

A spokeswoman for the Parks Department, Mae Ferguson, confirmed the report and said the agency is still investigating.

“We have not found a carcass, but we are continuing to monitor the area closely,” Ferguson said.

The Parks Department said the blood could have been from a fight between two swans, but Artz believes otherwise.

Swans can be territorial and aggressive during their nesting season, but that takes place in the spring and was over when the blood was discovered, Artz said, adding that even territorial behavior doesn’t explain all the blood.

“We have never seen blood drawn from territoriality issues in Prospect Park,” Artz said. “At best, they would chase each other around the lake.”

Artz said over the past two years she has noticed an increase in animal cruelty at the park, including people luring turtles out of the lake, trapping goldfinches with sticks covered in a sticky substance and dumping domestic ducks in the lake.

The Parks Department received a complaint about people catching goldfinches in May, a spokeswoman said. Reports regarding the ducks were not immediately confirmed.

Nicole Brown