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Dept. of Environmental Conservation decides fate of mute swans in NY

Mute swans
Photo by Matt Cardy

On Thursday, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) met with animal advocates in Albany to discuss the future of the mute swan in New York state, according to the Suffolk Times.

Advocates were enraged when the DEC announced a management plan in December that would eliminate all free-ranging mute swans in New York by 2025. Their reasoning, according to the DEC website, is that “Mute swans can cause a variety of problems, including aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation.”

The DEC stated that the estimated 2,200 mute swans in the state are expected to reproduce at a rate of 13 to 20 percent annually.

Thousands of individuals and organizations contacted DEC with their concerns. Along with opposing the plan, many also questioned the data collected.

“Regardless of whether they are indigenous to the United States or not, we were simply not comfortable with the agency’s admitted inability to thoroughly quantify mute swan productivity, migration and survival rates,” said Bill Ketzer of the Northeast region ASPCA.

Due to public outcry, the DEC has withdrawn its plan to eliminate all mute swans in the state. Instead, it plans on developing a way to control the swan population.

Several petitions asking to save the mute swans in New York include Stop New York State's Swan Killing Plan, which received more than 28,000 signatures, and Save Mute Swans in New York City, which received more than 39,000 signatures.

New York is not the first state to conduct such a swan management plan. In Maryland, between 1999 and 2010, a cull decreased the mute swan population from an estimated 4,000 to just 200 birds.

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