FORKED RIVER — Officials at the Popcorn Park Zoo Animal Rescue and Sanctuary say a swan is recovering after being shot with tranquilizer dart — one big enough to fell a deer and absolute overkill for waterfowl.

The animal refuge is looking for the person responsible, and asking anyone with information to send it to njhumane@aol.com.

The dart was powerful enough that it would have drowned the swan, had it been on the water while it quickly became sedated, according to the refuge. But "this unlucky swan turned out to be a very lucky swan though. The dart was in her wing just missing the humerus bone, going through the wing just enough for the drug to inject outside her body.

The following account is as provided by the animal refuge:

Today a friend called, I could hardly understand him at first because he was so upset. He had just helped to catch a swan in Toms River that he thought had been shot with an arrow. He was on his way to Popcorn Park and wanted to make sure we had one of our veterinarians available.

When he arrived he was sitting in the passenger seat holding the swan. We got a carrier big enough for the swan and placed him in it. As we moved I could see it wasn’t an arrow it was a lot shorter. We made him comfortable while our vet finished a surgery.

When she was done we took the swan from the carrier and put her on the exam table, we could now exam her better, and what did we find? A dart used by animal agencies to tranquilize animals (usually wildlife). But this was a larger dart, with a large barb that would be used on deer, never on something as fragile as waterfowl.

This larger dart should never be used on an animal in the water as it would drown while it was being sedated. This unlucky swan turned out to be a very lucky swan though, the dart was in her wing just missing the humerus bone, going through the wing just enough for the drug to inject outside her body. If it had injected in a muscle she would have drowned as she fell asleep from the drug. I have no idea why someone would try and dart an animal in the water, let alone a swan.

My friend and a helper just threw some corn in the water and the swan came over and while the swan put his head under the water to get the corn, he grabbed him, real simple. Our veterinarian removed the dart and treated the wound. There was quite a bit of damage because of the barb but she should be fine.

She’s resting comfortably and will stay with us getting antibiotics and other meds until she is healed. If any of you who read this live in Toms River and know of anyone who would have done this, please don’t comment here, rather email me at njhumane@aol.com.

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