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On Thursday, October 26, 2017, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a Mute Swan Management Plan public hearing. During this meeting, many prominent people spoke against the DEC's plan to kill New York  Mute Swans. One of those people was NY Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of Committee on Environmental Conservation and also a supporter of the DEC in the past. He expressed on record his deep dissatisfaction with the actions of the DEC and their Mute Swan Management Plan. 

However, it was Regal Swan Foundation that provided the legal bombshell that the Reform Act of 2004 to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, was entered into Congress inappropriately, and was never ratified by President Bush. Therefore, it is null and void. Therefore, any and all acts perpetrated against Mute Swans (and other birds covered by this Reform Act) are in violation of international law. 

Hundreds of thousands of Mute Swans  have been slaughtered throughout the United States, including Michigan because they were removed from the Migratory  Bird Act in 2004. With this new information, we want congress and our state legislators to place an immediate moratorium on all Mute Swan killings and to investigate the illegal way the Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act of 2004 was pushed through Congress and also hold the Michigan DNR, US Fish and Wildlife, USDA, and anyone else who has killed Mute Swans in Michigan accountable for violating the original Treaty.




On January 13, 2011, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources presented a proposal for Mute Swan Management to the Natural Resource Commission.  Their proposal not just denied the waterfowl rehabilitator to take in any injured Mute swans, but it also forced them to render any Mute Swans they had in their possession and euthanize them.

This cruel plan now leaves any Mute Swan that has been hit by a boat or jet ski, or is wrapped in fishing line, or hooked in the mouth by a fish hook left behind, or ripped open by a turtle, or shocked after hitting a power line, to suffer a cruel and long death without receiving any help from humans. Many of these unwarranted injuries are from human error and not nature. The phrases used by the DNR “Let nature take its course” or “survival of the fittest” do not apply with these types of injuries. This GOVERNMENT agency was appointed to protect our wildlife and, instead, they are behind the most cruel and inhumane plan to eradicate a species that has been in North America since the late 1800’s and in Michigan since 1919.

On February 10, 2011, The NRC not only voted 3 to 2, to not allow the rehabilitator s to continue treatment on injured Mute Swans, but they also voted to eradicate all Mute Swans but 2000 in our state claiming the Mute Swan is now "a non-native, invasive species" . The DNR stated that they are working to remove Mute Swans from all state land and eventually public and private lakes. 

 "The Mute Swan Management and Control Program Policy and Procedures contains a goal to reduce the Mute swan population to zero on DNRE lands. We will continue management activities to reach that goal." -Barbara Avers, DNR Waterfowl and Wetlands Specialist.

The problem with this plan is that it has been on-going since the late 90’s at taxpayer expense.  The reasoning behind the killing is that as Barb Avers stated at the 2014 International Swan Symposium is that they want a “native swan”.  The Michigan DNR also stated that the Mute Swans were non-native, invasive, aggressive, detrimental to other waterfowl, eat copious amounts of sub-aquatic vegetation and that the need to kill the Mute Swans was necessary for the health of Michigan wetland habitats. These points have been dispelled by international swan and wetland habitat specialists and current valid reliable scientific research. Fossils have been found throughout the U.S. showing that a Mute Swan ancestor existed in North America, meaning that the Mute Swan is a native swan.

At a local DNR presentation, Ms. Avers stated that the state was concerned that what occurred in Maryland, might occur in Michigan. Destroying an entire species of swan based on speculation of what could happen is not exactly “Sound Science”, something the DNR tries to assure people they are all about. Also, keep in mind, Maryland has not one natural lake. Michigan has over 11,000 inland lakes according to the Michigan DNR website.  

So, let’s look at what actually occurred in Maryland regarding Mute Swans as stated at the 2014 International Swan Symposium by a Maryland DEC official, Mr. Larry Hindman.

Maryland wanted to kill the Mute Swans because “scientific research” showed that the Mute Swans’ fecal matter was producing high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous and the birds were eating too much aquatic vegetation. This was based upon a graduate’s students’ research, funded by the Maryland DNR that only tested what amounted to 3/100ths of an acre and generalized to 3,000 acres of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. No further research was ever conducted to validate this DNR funded “graduate student’s findings.

According to Mr. Hindman, Maryland never conducted a required NEPA study issued by a Federal Court and in 2004, went “under the radar from politicians, citizens and the media” to kill all Mute Swans except 2 nesting pairs.  As of 2014 and other current studies, the nitrogen and phosphorous levels are still high and the levels are now attributed to run-off from animal waste farms, pesticides and other pollutants.  This was the exact same information that was provided to Maryland, Michigan and other states at the 2000 International Swan Symposium but was completely ignored.

So, we need to ask Ms. Avers, what exactly happened in Maryland that caused the need for Michigan to kill all Mute Swans by 2030?

According to Michigan DNR officials, Barb Avers and Dave Luukkonen at the 2014 International Swan Symposium, they have no scientific research showing that the Mute Swans are any more aggressive than any other wildlife species, only anecdotal data.  They also stated that they had no scientific research showing any detrimental harm to the habitat or other wildlife.

Many international swan and wetland habitat specialists presenting at the same swan symposium stated that the Mute Swans were no more aggressive, did no more harm to the environment and did not exponentially increase in numbers as stated by Michigan DNR and other state and federal wildlife officials.

In fact, most current research and these same swan and wetland habitat specialists state that the Mute Swans are actually a Sentinel species indicating the presence of heavy metals and harmful microorganisms in the environment.

Still ignoring this research, Michigan DNR officials are continuing to kill the Mute Swans by shooting, decapitating and stomping cygnets to death in the nest and in areas that boaters, fishermen and others do not want to encounter the swans. Over 9000 Mute Swans have been shot and slaughtered since 2011. This number comes from information gathered through the Freedom of Information Act.

Here are the notes taken from the presentation by Dave Luukkonen and Barb Avers, Michigan DNR at 2014 Swan Symposium that totally dispute and/or contradict their claims to the public: 

DAVE LUUKKONEN, ET. Al - MICHIGAN DNR   Mute Swan Population Growth in Michigan in Relation to Management Intensity.  SPONSORED BY US WILDLIFE SERVICES AND MICHIGAN DNR 

            Introduced to Michigan in 1919 Mute Swans 47 birds in 1949 estimate 500                birds in   1974, < 15, and 0000 birds by 2000 estimate.

Fixed wing survey since 1991-2013 by US Wildlife Services some surveys had variants that caused ranges rather than true estimates (In a previous presentation by a U.S. Wildlife Services pilot, the pilot stated that due to glare on the water, they could not discern the species of swan while conducting counts of swans, he also stated that although his job was to count, he never saw any aggressive behavior between the Mute Swans or other swan species such as the Tundra swans 

Annual CV’s range from 20-90% (most years 25-30%)  The Swan survey is conducted after April when Tundras leave.  Michigan DNR estimates: 1994  Dismissed the count because of large Tundra Swan presence. (So, Michigan DNR just arbitrarily threw out this year, just like many other research projects, if the DNR or US Wildlife Services do not like the data, they either ignore, remove, or come up with another set of parameters or rules to fit their data to cull the Mute swans).  

            Most Culling was on state lands.Their original plan was to reduce the numbers by 2000 in 2030.  However, stated that presently, the numbers are stable.  However, in  2007, came up with another plan to kill more by 2030. They have already killed 26,000 birds.  2006< 50 individuals; 2006-2009;  200-425 killed;  2012- 2,628 dead; 2013, 2,177   

AVERS, MICHIGAN DNR ASSOCIATE &  LUUKKONEN ABOVE - Using Public Engagement, outreach, and collaboration to support management of a rapidly increasing Mute Swan population in Michigan (AGAIN Sponsored by MDNR & US Wildlife) 

Basically, the DNR educated the media and public through canned information so that could limit misinformation, population guides, negative impacts, management policies and goals, etc.  They stated the following negative impacts:

            Ecological impact- Sub Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)

            Displaced native waterfowl and other waterfowl

            Aggressiveness toward Humans 

(The problem with this “canned information is that is a total misrepresentation of facts). Reduce to 0 on state lands Less than 2,000 by 2030 – Avers stated they would never get to this number under the Present plan, Policy revision in 2010, (again another policy revision because they did not get the results that they had hoped for). Avers spoke about doing things differently than Maryland by engaging public, got public and private property owners, hunters, wildlife biologists, animal activists, etc. to buy into plan. Used canned same consistent message. Politicians had to be presented framed risks for decision making. They were more interested in other invasive species such as fish, plants, etc., and had to be given frame by frame risk to get them on board: the framed risk: aggression, invasive species, etc. Reached stability with present plan. Then, revised plan to cull more.           

ASKED BY PARTICIPANT:  Were they going to go ahead and kill more than was      agreed upon if it still was not socially or politically acceptable. The Answer was   probably. So, even after getting agreement with the above public and private sector,  they revised the plan and will go forward without their acceptance.          

ASKED BY PARTICIPANT:  WHAT was the overall cost of controlling Mute Swans and reintroducing species?  LUUKKONEN stated he did not know.  The participant pressed again and these figures were given by Avers:  US Agriculture paid $100,000-125,000 to control the Mute Swan species.  Not counting staff Michigan DNR $25,000.  No cost of reintroduction was provided.  They also noted that this program was going to run out of funding in the next few years. 

What is most important about the Michigan DNR’s premise that there are too many Mute Swans and they eat too much vegetation is debunked by the following statements: Hindman, Maryland DNR stated that there has never been a collaborative systemic count of Mute Swans in North America.  So, how can Michigan DNR state that Mute Swans are exponentially increasing when a U.S. Wildlife pilot also admits that they cannot discern species while counting swans? 

As Avers and other DNR officials were stating that the Mute Swans eat approximately 8 lbs of subaquatic vegetation daily,  Larry Gillette, from the Trumpeter Society, interjected that “the 20 vs 8 lbs was commonly misquoted by many and it had started with his raising Trumpeter Swans. “The juveniles required 20 lbs of aquatic vegetation for sustenance, but that may not equate to adults”. 

So, a juvenile Trumpeter Swan eats twice the amount of sub-aquatic vegetation on a daily basis. Michigan DNR states the 8 lb sustenance by a Mute Swan as the reason behind the killings of the Mute Swans. Michigan DNR wants to save the depletion of the sub-aquatic vegetation.If the Trumpeter Swan juvenile eats twice the amount sub-aquatic vegetation than a Mute Swan, then why is the Michigan DNR and other wildlife agencies replacing the Mute Swans with Trumpeter Swans? Many mute swan advocates believe it’s because the trumpeter swan is a game bird and can be hunted. It is the largest game bird and would bring in lots of money to the DNR wildlife division. 

Finally, it has been noted that there has never been an independent NEPA study conducted regarding Mute Swans in the U.S., so the information regarding their detriment to the environment or other negative impacts are not substantiated by federally or state funded “graduate studies”. 

Here is the real reason behind the killings.  There has been a concerted effort with former U.S and state wildlife officials to form the Trumpeter Swan Society. The Society’s mission is to introduce Trumpeter Swans throughout the U.S., including into areas that they have never existed so that they can eventually be used for Trophy Waterfowl Hunting. Trophy Waterfowl permits are more expensive than regular hunting permits and will help increase state and federal wildlife coffers as their budgets are now decreasing. This re-introduction/hunting program has been in existence since the late 80’s at taxpayer expense.
Think of this, Ms. Avers stated that in 2014, the cost of the Mute Swan killing program was $100,000- $125.000 to the U.S. Wildlife Services, $25,000 to Michigan DNR and did not count staff and other ancillary expenses.  FLINT, Michigan and other areas are having a water crisis in which fresh clean water is now a major concern.  How can the Michigan DNR justify this much money being expended to kill one entire species of swan only to introduce another for hunting purposes at taxpayer expense?

Even though Michigan DNR may state that hunting and fishing permits fund this program, this is highly doubtful as DNR staff could be used for better more sustainable programs such as testing for actual man-made pollutants and other run-off into wetland areas and their effects on waterfowl and other wildlife. 

Does the Michigan taxpayer want to continue funding this program that Ms. Avers states is unsustainable? Is it safe to enjoy the waters of Michigan if the Michigan DNR is scapegoating Mute Swans instead of diagnosing other problems with the sub-aquatic vegetation growth caused by man-made pollutants? 

Do tourists want to continue traveling to Michigan if the state’s major intent is to kill a species that is wrongfully implicated in polluted waters while Michigan DNR and EPA officials continue to place blame on anything other than the actual cause or try to clean up the actual pollutants? 

The above questions should be asked of state officials before any more taxpayer money is used to kill any Mute Swan under the guise of conservation instead of the real cause, Trophy Waterfowl Hunting .


MICHIGAN DNR LIKE OTHER WILDLIFE AGENCIES ARE ONLY CONCERNED WITH INCREASING THEIR WILDIFE BUDGETS! The Michigan DNR gave a conservation award to Wilbur, Joe, Johnson for his participation in bringing Trumpeter Swan eggs from Alaska into Michigan to start a population. He is also responsible for establishing the resident Canada goose population in Michigan as well. The Michigan DNR manipulates our wildlife so they can profit. Give the hunters more animals to shoot and the DNR will prosper. After all, Russ Mason, Chief of the DNR Wildlife Division, will tell you to your face that your Michigan tax dollars do no fund them that hunter and fishermen monies do. From The DNR website: In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act – a landmark law that changed the way conservation is funded in the United States – the Department of Natural Resources thanks hunters for their role in conserving Michigan’s wildlife.

“A tremendous ‘thank you’ goes out to Michigan hunters – their contribution to the conservation of our state’s natural resources is immense,” said Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division chief. “Many people believe that their general tax dollars fund the work we do, but it’s those who participate in hunting, fishing and sport shooting who support the vast majority of our wildlife conservation work.” 

 “If you are a hunter, have bought a hunting or fishing license or have purchased a firearm, bow or crossbow, thank you for investing in Michigan’s wildlife. You have made a difference for 75 years and we sincerely hope you continue to support conservation in Michigan.