Thousands of swans are in danger of dying along the Baltic coast in Estonia as one of the harshest winters in years has frozen the shallow waters where they feed.
Hundreds of swans have already starved to death. The remaining 5,000 are in danger of dying if, as forecast, the waters stay locked in ice for many weeks to come.
In an effort to save the swans, rescue teams have smashed holes through some sections of the ice, frozen nearly 2 feet thick along the coast. A public appeal has also been made for people to feed bits of bread and potatoes to hungry swans languishing near the shore.
“It’s a tragedy,” Tiit Randla of the Environment Ministry said Friday. “If they don’t get additional food, these swans are going to perish. I’m afraid by spring, they will all be dead.”
Some swans have been placed in zoos and volunteers have freed others stuck in snow and ice. But this former Soviet republic has limited resources, and officials said there is only so much they can do.
“You can’t house them all in zoos and you can’t keep them in your bathroom,” environment official Aap Mumme said.