MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The swan that was found stranded on Lake Mendota and saved by members of the Madison Fire Department's Lake Rescue Team has died, according to an update from the fire department.
But, the bird apparently did not die from being exposed to the elements, authorities noted. They said its blood contained "extremely high levels of lead" and it passed away overnight.
In a statement on the Dane County Humane Society's Wildlife Center's Facebook page, officials said there was a "silver lining" in that "the swan passed away in a warm and quiet place rather than suffering in the cold."
At the time the swan was saved, two bald eagles had been circling overhead, which meant that by getting the swan out of the area, they also prevented the eagles from being exposed to all that lead.
"This rescue reduced suffering for the swan, and possibly saved the lives of the two eagles," the Humane Society added.
The swan had been found about 200 feet from the shore near Picnic Point and didn't seem like it could move, the Fire Department said.
Multiple people had called MFD about it, worried not only that it seemed stranded, but about the predators flying over it. The rescue team took out its airboat, which is designed to glide over water and ice and raced toward the swan. It grew more and more agitated as the noisy boat approached, but still was having difficulty moving.
With some tips from the Humane Society, the rescuers wrapped the bird in a towel, calmed it down and placed it in a crate. It was then taken to the Humane Society where it died overnight.