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.
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