New York Wants to Kill All of its Mute Swans

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is under fire for plans to eradicate all of the wild mute swans in the state over the next decade.

The swans, who were brought to North America in the 1800s for ornamental purposes, are considered a non-native, invasive species and the state wants them gone. Under the DEC’s newly released draft management plan, an estimated 2,200 free-ranging mute swans will be listed as a prohibited species and will be wiped out by 2025 if the plan’s goal is met.

The DEC cited a number of problems swans can cause as justification for a mass cull, including “aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation.”

The plan has drawn opposition from New Yorkers who love the swans and want to see them remain as part of the landscape and from animal advocacy groups including Friends of Animals (FoA), In Defense of Animals (IDA) and GooseWatch NYC, who are calling the DEC’s plan scientifically flawed and unethical. It has also pitted them against other conservation groups who support a mass cull, including Audubon NY, which is now being accused of betraying birds.

The groups are arguing that the swans are being used as scapegoats for environmental problems and the claims that they pose a threat to people are being blown out of proportion.

FoA stated that, “While the diet of mute swans consists of SAV, studies have shown that runoff from fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste contribute significantly to the loss of SAV in other areas, like the Chesapeake Bay. Since mute swans constitute only about one half of one percent of the approximately 400,000 waterfowl in New York counted by the DEC, and the nearly half a million waterfowl also consume aquatic vegetation, killing a relatively small population of mute swans will not contribute significantly to SAV recovery.”

Swans might also act aggressively in nesting areas to protect their young, but that certainly doesn’t justify killing them, especially not when these encounters can be so easily avoided on our part. When it comes to the aviation safety argument, FoA notes that the DEC fails there too. There have also only been four incidents involving airplanes since 1990, which were confirmed by the The Federal Aviation Administration’s Wildlife Strike Database.

IDA and GooseWatch are also arguing that there’s an underlying motive to keep hunters happy by protecting game birds and getting rid of anything that threatens or competes with them, instead of focusing on the problems we’ve caused wildlife through displacement and over hunting.

The government’s continued justification for targeting species in the name of “management,” while wildlife-loving taxpayers are left funding the questionable actions of Wildlife Service’s hired guns, needs to stop.


Please sign and share the petition urging the DEC not to go forward with its plan to eradicate mute swans.

The DEC is also accepting public comments until February 21, which can be emailed to, or sent via mail to: NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

Andrew C.
Andrew C4 years ago

Petition signed.

Kelvin L.
Kelvin L.4 years ago

Mute swans are also a danger to humans (I don't like this argument because I'm a huge carnivore conservation advocate, but let's face it this article shows swans are officially more dangerous than wolves!):

Why Mute Swans are a problem:

Every life should be considered sacred, but when one life takes the lives of many, where is the line drawn? Message me if you'd like to discuss this further.

Kelvin L.
Kelvin L.4 years ago

Mute Swans are an invasive English species that destroys ecosystems killing fish, amphibians, and preventing waterfowl from breeding, namely our beautiful Trumpeter swan which compete for breeding sites with Mute swans which are bigger and more aggressive:

"How do mute swans endanger native wildlife species?

Mute swans are one of the world's most aggressive waterfowl species, especially during nesting and brood-rearing. Mute swans exhibit aggression toward other waterfowl and can displace native waterfowl from their nesting and feeding areas by attacking, injuring and even killing other birds.

In Michigan, of particular concern are native breeding waterfowl and water birds such as trumpeter swans (state threatened), Canada geese, ducks, common loons (state threatened) and black terns (state special concern).

Mute swans feed primarily on water plants. By feeding heavily on this food source, mute swans reduce the availability of these plants to native wildlife, and may ultimately reduce the carrying capacity of wetlands for native wildlife species including birds, mammals, amphibians and fish.

Wildlife biologists have concern over the declining numbers of native duck species such as canvasbacks and scaup. These diving ducks feed on particular aquatic plants and are negatively impacted when mute swans reduce or eliminate this food source."

-Michigan DNR

Mute swans are also a danger to humans (I don't like this argument because I'm a huge carnivore conservati

Don Swanz
Don Swanz4 years ago

DONNA H: Just courious; how does ones' child, "hit one by accident in a cemetqry"? Don and WE CAN! :-))

donna huffer
donna huffer4 years ago

Well another fowl that is over running our country from Canada is Canadian Geese which you are not allowed to kill and they are every where.My son hit one by accident in a cemetqry and the law was called on him and he did not mean todo it.The cemetary person said he wished they would kill them all,They keep the cemetary felthy.They keep our water areas nasty as well as the beaches in our park areas where there is anytype of small ponds.After bringing corn or other field products they fly in by the hundreds to eat.I love all creatures but sometimes things do get out of hand.

Kathleen R.
Kathleen R4 years ago

Petition signed

Georgia G.
Georgia a4 years ago

I read that article and was just foaming at the mouth, trying to figure out what I wanted to say. I read the comments and realized I didn't need to say anything; it had already been done quite well for me. Tricia H agrees with me our esteemed government spends more money killing than attempting to find a solution. I'm still upset at the millions spent on wolves out west to bring them back. Now that the ranchers are upset, a wholesale slaughter is being allowed. Mark D and
I are in agreement the US Fish & Wildlife are monstrous. I've recently read with glee they are facing an investigation into their murderous works. Then Virginia C and I definitely are in agreement on Monsanto which is wreaking so much havoc on this planet. Our Congressmen and Senators need to get off their rears and follow thru on some of those marvelous campaign promises they make to get themselves elected and perhaps these poor animals would not suffer so.

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton4 years ago

Our Government spends more money on killing than finding a solution. Like dropped birth control for the deer and the raccoons and the swans. What is it like 30 cents and when apparently the healthcare isn't paying for humans, what would it hurt? Our tax dollars are paying for sharp shooters. What will this cost us besides our dignity and the loss of animals lives which we didn't agree to.