Mute Swan Parents Killed in New York, Despite Promise of Protection

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is under fire yet again for killing two mute swans and orphaning their young, just as lawmakers passed a two-year moratorium on lethal control in the state.

The swans were killed last Tuesday in Black River Bay when residents spotted an unmarked boat before shots aimed at the two parents were fired, leaving witnesses both angry and worried about the fate of the babies who were present at the time.

According to local news reports, residents who followed the shooters, who were at first thought to be poachers, later identified them as “wildlife specialists” who were working for the DEC.

In a prepared statement it gave to a local television station, the agency defended its actions, saying it was “carrying out a long-standing protocol to manage this invasive species that threatens other species in this sensitive habitat.”

The latest incident has sparked more outrage from animal advocates and elected officials who have been fighting to ensure the state’s mute swans, who have been present since they were brought here in the 1800s, would be protected from exactly this type of harm.

Over the winter the DEC became the target of public outrage after it issued a draft plan that entailed eradicating the state’s entire population of 2,200 mute swans by 2050, claiming that they’re an invasive species who pose a threat to native wildlife and are aggressive toward people.

Later, after receiving thousands of letters, comments and signatures on petitions it backtracked on the plan and said it would hold off on killing any swans and consider non-lethal methods to achieve its management goals before releasing another plan.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and Senator Tony Avella introduced legislation that would have put the state’s plan on hold. Their legislation put a two-year moratorium on killing swans and would require the DEC to hold at least two public hearings and a public comment period before finalizing another management plan. It would also require the agency to justify whatever its plan is with scientific evidence and prioritize non-lethal management techniques.

In a victory for swans, their legislation passed this week and lawmakers are now outraged that the agency’s employees violated the understanding that no swans would be killed. Senator Avella sent a scathing letter criticizing the agency for allowing employees to senselessly, and mercilessly, kill swans in front of residents who were out to enjoy the water that day, further writing that, “The fact that these killings were carried out after DEC agreed to revise their ‘eradication plan’ and present it for another public hearing, is even more shameful and most definitely warrants an immediate investigation.”

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz also blasted the state for its actions in a statement: “Even without the moratorium being signed into law, the implication was that DEC would stand by its good-faith promise and keep the swans off death row until further notice. Instead, we’re getting a clear indication that DEC can’t be trusted and still plans to engage in the sanctioned killing of mute swans.”

Now both officials are calling on the agency to apologize and explain why it thought it would be okay to go ahead and kill swans even though no new management plan has been released and there was an understanding that none would be harmed.


Please sign and share the petition asking the DEC to publicly justify its actions and ensure no more swans are harassed or killed.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

Petition signed and shared to a lot of people!
The DEC should be totally ashamed of themselves!

Patricia Dumais
Patricia Dumais3 years ago

Such beautiful birds — wish we had them in Montreal. In which way are these swans a problem? Sounds like another case of human intolerance.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner3 years ago

Carol P. sounds like she would be happy if her children were killed. What a disgusting comment.. I'd like to hear how Carol P. has done a single thing for the environment.. of course not. Just keep quiet and stop advocating slaughter for self-gratification, which is the only reason you'd want it.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner3 years ago

These "conservation" sadists are terrorists, pure and simple. They belong in the same class as "Fish and Wildlife Services". They are domestic terrorists who should be treated as such.

Debi Lynn
Debi Lynn3 years ago

I am so pissed off with the so called wildlife services. There was a 2 year hold on killing them to find a better way. Who ever gave the order to MURDER the two Swans NEEDS to lose their job !!!!! And what happened to the babies ???

Krisi Allen
Krisi Allen3 years ago

The people working in this "conservation service" are full of crap. I believe conservation has absolutely nothing to do with "killing or destroying" life. Shame on the people who ordered and carried out this act of killing these beautiful creatures.

I signed the petition. I hope they close whatever loop hole which allows these "environmental conservationists" to dispose of the wildlife they are supposed to be protecting.

Kenneth Davies
Kenneth Davies3 years ago

sadly noted

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y3 years ago

Curious how agencies which slaughter wildlife are called 'Dept. of Enviro. Conservation' or 'Federal Wildlife Services'.

Conservation? "Service"?? It's the slaughter of thousands of animals at taxpayer expense, no less.

Ruth G.
Ruth G3 years ago

what can i say . what stupid stupid peabrained thickos!! how do they get the jobs! such unnecessary tragedy! you IDIOTS!