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New York Backtracks on Plans to Eradicate Mute Swans

New York Backtracks on Plans to Eradicate Mute Swans

Mute swans in New York will be getting a reprieve from slaughter following major public outcry over the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) plan to eradicate the state’s population over the next decade, but animal advocates are still concerned about their future.

Earlier this year the DEC publicly announced its plan to list mute swans as a prohibited species and kill the state’s estimated population of 2,200 free-ranging mute swans by 2025. Even though they’ve been here since the 1800s after being imported by Europeans, the department used the justification that they’re an invasive species who pose a threat to native wildlife and are aggressive towards people.

The plan drew the ire of bird lovers, animal advocacy groups and legislators who called on the DEC to drop its plan, which they believed was scientifically flawed and unethical. Advocates for mute swans argued they are being used as a scapegoat for environmental problems their population just isn’t large enough to cause and that the claim that they pose a threat to people is hugely exagerated.

New York Senator Tony Avella said he was “horrified” to learn about the plan and introduced a bill that would impose a moratorium on any killing because eradication was not unanimously supported by wildlife experts and because the DEC didn’t provide any evidence that its plan would actually benefit the environment.

Meanwhile, according to a statement, the “DEC received more than 1,500 comments on the plan from individuals and organizations as well as more than 16,000 form letters and 30,000 signatures on various petitions.” Thanks to public outrage and vocal opposition from animal advocates the agency is backtracking on its plan and said it would consider non-lethal means to achieve the management plan’s intended goals.

“We appreciate the strong response that the draft plan received, and it’s clear that New Yorkers recognize the importance of a comprehensive mute swan management plan that balances the interests of a diversity of stakeholders,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “The revised plan will seek to balance the conflicting views about management of mute swans in New York.”

However, even with the promise to consider non-lethal alternatives, like egg-oiling or birth control, mute swan advocates aren’t satisfied that the DEC’s revisions will be any less threatening to the future of New York’s beloved mute swans. Friends of Animals has vowed to stay on this issue until the DEC drops its plan entirely and the organization’s sentiments have been echoed by others who want to see these beautiful birds remain as part of the landscape.

“Until their plan doesn’t include eradication, it’s unacceptable, and they’ll be getting the same comments back again,” said Gary Rogers, a spokesman for the Nassau County SPCA.

After the DEC issues a revised plan at some point this spring the public will have another chance to weigh in during a 30-day public comment period.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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165 comments

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4:38AM PDT on May 16, 2014

Just leave the Mute Swans alone!!

12:39PM PDT on Apr 27, 2014

I for one, welcome the swans being aggressive as they can.. my opinion, it's an excellent defense mechanism for them to peck (hope it really hurts whoever is harassing them) and flap their wings against the hordes of humans, especially if its scares those predatory humans back to their predatory lairs.

12:27PM PDT on Apr 27, 2014

ignore Simon T.
he probably works for the Cattlemen's Association (or their partners in criminal behavior, the Fish and Wildlife "Service" destroyers of wildlife, or the corrupt USDA, which is run by the agribusiness environmental destroyer mafia), as a paid member of the criminal gang that has wiped out countless species of plants and animals in the US. Homicidal psychotics are now calling themselves "conservationist" what a grotesque joke

8:51PM PDT on Mar 13, 2014

It is really an attrocity to me. We are the ones who "introduced, transported, imported, exported" whatever the heck you want to call it all these animals and they are the ones who have to suffer for our stupidity. We, on the other hand, feel we have a right to invade every nook and cranny on this Earth and to exterminate anything we deem as a pest. We are total hypocrites.

11:39PM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

SIMON T. You are as evil and callous as CAROL P, BETSEY P and all the other lowlife evil scum who want these helpless MUTE SWANS eradicated. It,s about time we eradicated the evil human scum who commit unimaginable cruelty against helpless sentient beings, destroy and cause havoc and destruction Worldwide. THE HUMAN BEING IS THE EVASIVE
SPECIES NOT THE MUTE SWANS. So leave them alone? It,s always the helpless animals that suffer by the hands of evil lowlife human scum.

8:01PM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

People should be culled because they are destroying every living thing on earth.

4:53PM PST on Mar 8, 2014

yay!

1:00PM PST on Mar 7, 2014

Simon is right. These swans ARE an invasive species. However, I personally refuse to accept that slaughter is the answer. Ever.

11:45AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

Good...now we just have to stop the squirrel slaughter.

5:50AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

Without wanting to be too controversial: Mute Swans are an invasive species in the US and my view on invasive species is that, if they have a detrimental effect on local endemic species, they should be eradicated.
In the UK we are beset with US imports: Grey Squirrels, Mink and Canada Geese to name but three we could well do without. The Grey Squirrel has spread disease to our much lovelier native Red Squirrel which has wiped them out from large portions of their range; Mink have virtually exterminated the Water Vole and Canada Geese are just hideously over-populating the wetland areas of our country preventing other waterfowl from breeding successfully. The only good Grey Squirrel, Mink or Canada Goose to me is one that is the other side of the Atlantic in the USA. The rest should be eradicated without lots of fluffy bunny hand-wringing at poor little innocent animals. As an active conservationist I want to see them gone. Fortunately the Mute Swan will not tolerate Canada Geese and frequently drown their young - unfortunately enough survive for their population to continue booming.

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