Confused walkers called police when they mistook RSPCA officers for swan thieves.
Onlookers reported the suspected swan-napping when they saw a man putting the bird into a cage and walking away with it at Manor Park, West Malling.
Kent Police investigated the case - but the alarm proved false when it was found the wildlife officers had been on the site rescuing an injured bird.
The real crooks turned out to be the swans themselves, as the casualty - one of three grown up cygnets - had been injured in a territorial dispute, having hit a tree while being kicked off the lake by its parents.
“The adults chase the old cygnets away so they can start breeding,” said Kent County Council head ranger Tim Bell. “It’s normal behaviour. They get to an age when they cease to be children and they become rivals.
“If there isn’t enough food or enough space, the adults will attack.
“A member of the public saw the injured swan and reported it, so the RSPCA took it from there. They decided to remove them all. They haven’t been harmed.”
The birds will now be relocated to a larger lake with enough space.
“Manor Park is quite a small lake and can only support a couple of swans,” added Mr Bell.
“The adults here used to attack dogs and people and all sorts.
“We always report an injured bird in case a dog gets them.”
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