The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 16, 2013

Swan song

Park’s parents killed by pickup

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

HERMITAGE — Two adult swans who have lived at Buhl Farm park in Hermitage for many years were hit by a pickup and killed at 5:45 a.m. Saturday on Forker Boulevard, said park General Manager Patrick D. O’Mahony.

“I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, said Elmer E. Young Sr., who donated the female swan to the park six or seven years ago in memory of his wife, Gloria Jean Young.

“I thought it would have been the younger ones,” Young said.

Two baby swans who were with the adults were not hit and have been taken to a farm for their protection, O’Mahony said.

“It’s terrible,” O’Mahony said of the deaths. “The community enjoys the swans. They enhanced the beauty of the park. Many people brought their kids up to see the swans.”

Hermitage police are investigating the incident.

A witness said the bright red pickup was northbound when it hit the birds in front of Avalon Country Club at Buhl Park and kept going, O’Mahony said.

“We don’t know who hit the swans,” he said. “We’ve turned everything over to Hermitage police.”

Young asked that the driver come forward.

The swans were buried at the park Saturday, O’Mahony said.

While O’Mahony said swan safety was important to park officials, the birds were not pets and were free to come and go as they pleased. While they usually stayed in Lake Julia, they often crossed Forker and swam in the lake on the golf course.

“We did have signs put up on Forker Boulevard; duck crossing,” O’Mahony said. “We do enforce the no feeding policy for all wildlife. We’ve done as much as we can to keep them safe.”

While he did not advocate containing the swans, Young said officials should have kept better tabs on them.

“They used to watch me like a hawk when I would go up and feed them,” he said, noting the female was raised on feed. “They could watch me but they couldn’t watch the swans.”

Park officials took extraordinary measures this winter when the swans were contained to a fenced-in area at what is known as the Julia Buhl Memorial Garden. Lake Julia’s water level was low because of the construction of a new outflow structure and the eventual dredging of the lake. Officials said they wanted the swans to have a permanent source of open water until the work was completed and Lake Julia was allowed to fill.

The male swan is the offspring of the two original swans donated to the park by former trustee Les Spaulding.