New York Backtracks on Plans to Eradicate Mute Swans

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Mute swans in New York will be getting a reprieve from 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.

New York Backtracks on Plans to Eradicate Mute Swans

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 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 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.

This article was written by Alicia Graef for Care2.com

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Tony Wagner
Tony Wagner

I agree. I sent a letter in support, but it got drowned out in the avalanche of knee jerk reactions.

Michael Adriaansen
Michael Adriaansen

These same people that are crying probably have piles of corn in their back yard for deer, and probably also cried about Canada Goose egg addling, and are likely the first to complain about how geese are crapping all over their yards and deer are eating all their garden plants. You can't win.

Michael Adriaansen
Michael Adriaansen

Maybe they can just have open season on the swans for hunters. Then the state isn't doing the work.

Wren Winter
Wren Winter

I was very disappointed to read that the DEC may back down on their decision to eradicate the Mute Swan from our waters in NYS. Evidently Friends of Animals are unaware of the environmental ramifications that will ensue if we do not act now. I have been a birder for 30 years and have witnessed the destruction of our natural world caused by man's continued folly. Please do not allow politics to get into the way of what needs to be done. Thank you.

Gerald Rising
Gerald Rising

I for one am deeply saddened by the retreat of the DEC on this issue. And I see the action of the Friends of Animals in seeking to support these marsh destroying mute swans as a typical AR response. By their "let everything live" standards they would have us protect phragmites and Japanese knotweed. We do need to take some actions to keep wildlife in balance and we certainly don't need another Canada goose problem. The noted concerns about these alien mute swans are already evident and we will see the results of this wrong-headed decision accumulate over the years… Read more »

Mark Dietrich

We should all promote the release of domestic cats, breeding of English sparrows and starlings and planting of Kudzu! Who needs native plants and wildlife? They are a thing of the past, after all. They are going the way of the passenger pigeon. Get over it. Learn to live with plants, animals, birds, trees, flowers and insects from other continents. We do not need native species in North America! I’ll take house sparrows over native bluebirds, any day. Flowers from other nations look better. Why try to reintroduce trumpeter swans? It’s worthless effort. Import more non-native swans to make everything… Read more »

Rick Wright
Rick Wright

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