Don't kill New York's mute swans!
It is deeply troubling that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved and released, with your endorsement, a draft species management plan that will eliminate free-ranging mute swans from New York by 2025. The reasons for this, according to the plan is that “mute swans can cause a variety of problems, including exhibiting aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality and potential hazards to aviation.” This is an ill-conceived and total exaggeration of the behavior of mute swans and their interaction with the environment.
There is no evidence that swans are responsible for meaningful environmental alteration. In fact, it is more likely that they are being used as a scapegoat for our political failure to deal with such environmental problems such as water pollution and toxic runoff. In the rare cases when pets and humans have been confronted by an assertive swan, it is usually because they were defending their young or their nests from a perceived threat.
The beautiful mute swan, known for its graceful white body and distinctive orange/red bill, is found up and down the eastern sea board and in areas as far west as Montana and Utah. It is still disputed whether mute swans are native to the United States or if they were introduced in the 1800s. Either way, free-ranging swans are now a naturalized, not to mention beautiful, part of our environment.
We must learn to live with our naturalized wildlife --native and non-native alike--and stop trying to recreate a world that can no longer exist. Brutal and unnecessary killing of mute swans is not a substitute for the humane and enlightened management that these magnificent animals deserve.
I am deeply concerned about the DEC's proposed management plan for mute swans. There is no need to kill off a species that has no threats to the environment. Additionally, there are numerous non-lethal and humane methods that can and should be explored before resorting to your proposed lethal control methods. Brutal and unnecessary killing of mute swans is not a substitute for the humane and enlightened management that these magnificent animals deserve.
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