18,000+ Sign Petition Against Swan Elimination Plan

Mute swans.
Mute swans. Photo credit: Mehmet Karatay

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to eliminate the free ranging mute swan population in the state by 2025 has, predictably, been met with opposition, including one change.org petition that was amassed more than 18,000 signatures in 10 days.

GooseWatch NYC, which started the petition, asks state residents to sign onto a letter to the DEC that reads, “Killing New York’s mute swans and other wildlife is wrong – it is cruel, and not how New Yorkers want our taxpayer dollars spent. The rationales used to support killing these animals are deeply flawed. New Yorkers value our wildlife, and cherish the free-living animals we share our environment with. We believe these creatures should be protected, not slaughtered. I oppose New York State’s plan to kill mute swans.”

GooseWatch says the DEC has overstated its reasons for wanting to get rid of mute swans.

“Swan attacks resulting in serious injury to humans are so rare and near physically impossible that the government insults the public’s intelligence by presenting this as a major justification for extermination,” according to the petition. “If you approach a swan nest they might get aggressive and hiss and flap their wings to protect their young, but this is a greatly exaggerated threat.”

The petition further states, “The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s case against the Mute Swan falls flat in the face of reason and responsibility. Its plan to utterly eliminate this majestic creature from the face of its land reflects an agency that has lost touch with its core mission as well as with the greater voices to which it must ultimately answer. Their plan’s pathetic attempt at simplifying or reducing management to utter elimination of what’s to be managed is a dereliction of duty and a crime against nature and public trust and a very grave cause for concern.”

According to the DEC, the mute swan is an invasive species, brought to North America from Eurasia in the 1800s for their aesthetic value. In addition to aggressive behavior, the DEC says other issues caused by mute swans are, “destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation.”

Statewide, the DEC said, the mute swan population was placed at 2,800 in 2002 and is estimated to be 2,200 now. Mute swans are the largest birds in New York, with an average adult weight of 20 to 25 pounds and a wing span of nearly 7 feet.

The plan is still just a draft. Comments may be submitted in writing through February 21 to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or emailed to [email protected]

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