An activist group says Stratford is abusing the swans that call it home.

The group #EndZoosInCanada wants to see the city build a waterfowl sanctuary for the birds to live in until they die because they say the current method the city uses of clipping the birds wings is cruel and doesn’t allow the birds to fly away if they want when they are young.

The group held a rally calling for the end of the practice on Sunday and have another planned for later this month and they say they also aren’t happy with the annual Swan Parade because it treats the birds as decorations.

President of #EndZoosInCanada Stephen Perrin lives in Stratford and says the taxes that residents pay towards the current method of controlling the swans should instead go to a sanctuary.

“I know it will cost money but there’s already money being put into it, in fact this has been going on for 40 years and I can’t believe that this has been happening for so long.”

City staff in Stratford say they wont be building a sanctuary and they say the swans are clipped to follow the Canadian licensing standards and to stop non-native species being spread.

Stratford’s Manager of Parks and Forestry, Quinn Malott, says the birds are well taken care of and they could leave the area if they want.

“They have it very good around Lake Victoria, there’s lots of nesting areas, lot’s of open water, lot’s of fresh grass, so they don’t leave.”

There are currently 21 swans in Stratford that can be seen in the Victoria Lake area over the summer.