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New Hope for Mute Swans As Lawmakers Pitch Halt On Mass Killings

Mute swans might live to see another day under a new plan by lawmakers.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons.
Mute swans might get a stay of execution if three lawmakers have their say.

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senators Tony Avella and Steve Cymbrowitz have teamed up to co-sponsor legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's plan to declare mute swans a "prohibited invasive species" and to kill all of the 2,200 mute swans in the state by 2025. 

In January, residents reacted with outrage after learning that state officials planned to eliminate all of the wild mute swans in New York, either by capturing or killing them.

Under the proposed plan, adult swans in public waters could be shot or euthanized, or they could be caught by those licensed to keep them in captivity. 

Mute swans are most prevalent on Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley.

The new legislation would require the DEC to demonstrate the actual damage to the environment or other species that have been caused by the mute swan population of only 2,200 across the state.

“Wildlife experts, rehabilitators and environmentalists do not unanimously agree that exterminating the mute swan population is justified," Thiele said. "In addition, there is debate amongst such experts about whether the planned eradication of the mute swan population is even minimally beneficial to the eco-system or to our environment. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Department of Environmental Conservation to illustrate the necessity of eradicating this non-native species by demonstrating the actual damage to the environment or other species caused by mute swans.”          

On the East End, the mute swan is often seen in local ponds and waterways, Thiele said, and in all his years of office, he's not received one complaint. 

"Mute swans can cause a variety of problems, including exhibiting aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality and potential hazards to aviation," Department of Environmental Conversation representatives countered.

Comments on the draft mute swan plan may be submitted in writing through Jan. 31 to: NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or by e-mail to fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us (please type "Swan Plan" in the subject line).

For more on this plan, click here.

What are your thoughts on the plan to eliminate all the mute swans? Tell us in the comments section below
rosy gallica February 19, 2014 at 07:28 AM
Perhaps Scooter is referring to the red foxes????
Denise A February 19, 2014 at 08:51 AM
Doris I do agree, I live in Ct, but I am an Islander. Ct brought coyotes here to kill the deer, when coyote population got to be and out of hand they brought in the fisher cat to kill the coyote. None of which worked. I open my front door and a coyote, can be running across my lawn. I can here on summer nights the kill, as a pack is killing something, could be your dog. Many cases of lost pets due to both these animals. It is a real concern every time you let your animal out, large or small.
phenseone February 19, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Sorry to all, seems as though the sarcasm in my first post was missed by some. For clarification, I do not endorse protecting asian carp, asian long horned beatles, zebra mussels, nor the reintroduction of mountain lions or wolves to long island. Being there isn't enough open lands to support deer, I had assumed it was obvious there wasn't enough for mountain lions or wolves to establish home ranges. I had thought that was clearly sarcasm. Perhaps I assign sarcasm much more readily than others. Star- I had assigned sarcasm to your "teachable moment" and "penal code" comments. Were those genuine arguements? Evan- the migratory bird treaty act protect canadian geese and did protect mute swans until 2004 when it was ammended to include only native birds and not introduced species. Sean- those methods over the last 20 years or so have only slowed populations and have done little to nothing in regards to limiting the expansion of their range.
Doris Schneider February 19, 2014 at 10:31 AM
Oh boy people, this could go on forever. We should all write to our representatives and attach all these comments. It seems more pros for the swans and definitely cons for coyotes, mountain lions and other such beasts. There is a solution with the lions and coyotes - They kill the deer and then the hunters can go after the coyotes, etc. before they have a chance to multiply. We do have foxes here, I saw one across the street one day and couldn't believe it. We live near a creek and have lots of deer also and other animals, such as wild turkeys, possums and the ever present garbage raider, the raccoon. No one will build on a creek, so I guess they are safe for now.
Evan Harris February 19, 2014 at 10:32 AM
Phenseone--thanks for educating me on the migratory bird treaty (no sarcasm intended here)...so at what point do the "powers that be" realize the disastrous situation that evolves regarding these NON-migrating creatures? Where are all the Child Protective Services crusaders that should be up in arms over the fact that virtually every school yard has been overtaken?
grace lopez February 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Great idea, Doris. They need to hear from us more.
barney February 19, 2014 at 10:40 AM
If we want a REAL invasive species that DOES damage, let's target the European Starling.
phenseone February 19, 2014 at 10:50 AM
The amendment to the migratory bird treaty act was actually spurred on by this exact thing, mute swans. This isn't anew debate I has been going on since the 1980's. It was the wildlife agencies of the east coast states that pressured the fed into amending the MBTA. Unfortunately, although the swan issue involves large expanses, the canadaian goose situation is pretty localized and a fairly recent developement. Until there is a ground swell of pressure to the fed for it, there probably won't be a search for solutions.
STAR dot STAR February 19, 2014 at 11:05 AM
phenseone... I LOVE sarcasm! VERY often I am. I saw the sarcasm in your comment where you spoke of saving things (asian carp, etc.) that we would't want saved. You comment about preferring the lion option didn't appear sarcastic. My comment about the "penal code" wasn't sarcasm, it was an analogy. The "penal code" was a reference to something we might call the morality of any given species. Human morality holds that we don't eat human children, the mountain lion morality has no such prohibition against eating human children. The "teachable moment" reference was more an attempt to redicule the lingo, perhaps sarcasticly!
phenseone February 19, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Star- honestly, I hadn't previously heard of idea of mountain loins on fire island. Good to see we have some commonalities though; say no to drugs, love of sarcasm and though extremely reclusive in nature, mountain lions would find human babies a delicious snack. Based on your previous comments, i think we probably have more in common view-wise than not. I think we would also agree our government wastes huge amounts of money persuing silly endevours; but on swans, we have opposing views. I can respect that, it is, afterall, what keeps this nation great. Thanks for the civility. :-)
FedUpRealist February 19, 2014 at 05:50 PM
The bleeding hearts can help with action not merely suggesting solutions...Get off Obama phones and capture the critters and drive them to another state far away...Then when you come back, you can shoot the deer and feed the homeless...
STAR dot STAR February 19, 2014 at 07:01 PM
phenseone - I think that anytime the state pulls out the gun of force, it's every citizen's responsibility to stand up and at least take notice. Although today's targets are only swans, that gun could be leveled at something else - closer to home - tomorrow. The talk of the Fire Island mountain lions occured at about the same time that the Northport village government was set to ban eating on public streets, they seeing the ordinance as a way to eliminate littering. Local businesses pointed out that the only thing that would be eliminated would be their businesses. The matter was eventually dropped. It seems that the Lady in the Harbor has become somewhat bullet ridden as of late, it takes an informed and active public to maintain compliance with the law, that big law we call the Constitution. I do what I can. This has always been a great nation and it's our obligation to keep it that way, thanks for your help in that endeavor!
Petey February 22, 2014 at 07:46 PM
If the NYSDEC intent is to really eliminate nuisance bird species, why don't they start with the number one most obnoxious bird that had displaced untold numbers of our native birds, especially the bluebird from out habitat, not only on Long Island but the entire state, and declare war on the English Starling?
Yvonne Kleine February 23, 2014 at 01:52 AM
Gandhi said that the way to judge a civilization is by the way it treats it's animals. Hell in a handcart, folks.
Gordon Matheson February 23, 2014 at 09:05 AM
The charges against mute swans are numerous. Alien invaders from Europe, creates a nuisance, attacks humans and aquatic bird species and the damning charge of destroying habitat of our native species. These are all true to a point but pale beside the damage caused by another species who also fit many of the same DEC requirements for eradication template. That would be humans of course. “We have met the enemy and he is us” Pogo
Barbara Goldowsky February 23, 2014 at 09:18 AM
Sad but true. Pogo had a lot of good sense. Or should I say "has?" As a fictional character, he is still with us.
Johny Q February 23, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Save the Swan: Kill the Geese! Canada Geese Facts: •Life expectancy: about 20 years •Weight: 20-25 pounds •The average adult goose eats approximately 3 lbs. of grass per day (or 5 sq.ft. of turf each day) •The average adult goose leaves approx. 1-3 lbs. of excrement each day. •The Canada geese population grows about 19.5% each year. •Migration is a learned process. •Migratory geese flight range: 2,000 – 3,000 miles •Resident geese flight range: 100 –200 miles to find food, water, and safety. •Resident geese can fly long distances as their migratory cousins, but generally have learned that it is not necessary. •Mating season: February to March •Geese mate for life and will stay together during all seasons. •Geese will find a new mate if mate dies or is killed. •Migratory geese nest in Canada. •Geese nesting in the U.S. are "resident" geese. •Resident geese were imported to the area for rebuilding dwindling numbers for conservation or hunting decades ago. The urban nuisance was not anticipated.
Bobb February 24, 2014 at 02:52 PM
DEC officials can cause a variety of problems, including exhibiting aggressive behavior towards taxpayers, destruction of recreational activity, eradication of common wildlife species, degradation of air quality through noxious emmissions, conversion of reams of paper to useless DEC documents, and potential hazards to common sense.
FedUpRealist February 24, 2014 at 02:55 PM
All these Long Island libs derserve what they've voted for....
Tim E March 06, 2014 at 03:48 PM
Swans and Geese should be harvested and used to solve the hunger problem.
FedUpRealist March 06, 2014 at 06:32 PM
Or, stop sending money to countries that HATE us...Use THAT money to feed our homeless and treat those with pre-existing conditions (very simple conservative answer)...With ALL the leftover money, we can give tax breaks to everyone (even the evil rich people the libs loathe so much!)
christie nicolle March 07, 2014 at 10:10 AM
thank you, thank you FedUpRealist!
rita March 07, 2014 at 11:56 AM
Or just give it to the police departments that are bleeding the taxpayers dry.
FedUpRealist March 07, 2014 at 02:01 PM
Rita, like 'em or loathe 'em, they are the last line of defense against the perverted, I'm-a-victim-so-I-have-a-right-to-be- violent society the libs have systematically created starting in the 60's...
rita March 09, 2014 at 07:27 PM
I respect our police and I know their work is dangerous. What's upsetting is Police unions don't compromise when contracts are in negotiation. But what confuses me is that the state and counties have money for mute swan studies and money for the DEC to kill deer. I don't get it.
Johny Q March 14, 2014 at 09:45 AM
Come on Rita....It's not that dangerous in Suffolk... Its not that the Police Unions don't compromise.. The raises are Political.. Bellone has to repay those that helped him get elected..an kiss a lot of butt....Note his brown nose?....Fedup has his nose up someones arse also!
Yvonne Kleine March 14, 2014 at 11:28 AM
Rita, you know I love you, but I just got my tax bill and over 10,000 bucks is going to the BBP school district. That leaves just 7000 for everything else including the police. I think we all know who is really bleeding us all into foreclosure.
Patchogue Snoop March 15, 2014 at 02:24 PM
Hey Johny, Yeah man it is....too many dunkin donuts on the island...its an occupational hazard for the cops. And yes, we pay for the donuts too under meal allowances when on OT.
Barbara Goldowsky March 15, 2014 at 08:11 PM
The swans are wondering when we are going to talk about THEM again....
Harriet Brown March 23, 2014 at 04:35 PM
There is no good reasons to destroy these beautiful creatures.

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