Will Maryland's Latest Attack Mean Mute Swans Will Be Gone Forever?
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We must intervene now.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) insists on wiping out the Mute swans, The Baltimore Sun now reports.
In what many believe will be the final word in a long fight, Secretary of Natural Resources John Griffin on Monday (8 June 2009) accepted the report of a hunter-dominated task force on the swans, saying that his staff is “unfortunately compelled” to continue population control efforts on the fewer than 500 birds still living on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
That means shooting adults or snapping their necks, and shaking eggs to kill the embryos.
The report claims mute swans “would be a constant and perpetual source of competition for scarce conservation resources,” but in fact mute swans compete with hunters who want to kill ducks and geese that eat the same underwater vegetation the swans do. To camouflage their hunting scheme, the task force, which includes bureaucrats and hunting groups such as Ducks Unlimited, assail mute swans erroneously as “feral” birds who are “an environmental hazard to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.”
Defenders of Wildlife and the Maryland Ornithological Society back the killing of mute swans. Some animal-protection groups support hazing the birds to wreck their eggs. Why?
Of the many hundreds of thousands of birds living at the Bay, the community of mute swans adds up to a mere 500. Just six years ago, there were approximately 4,000 but Maryland Department of Natural Resources is systematically killing them to eradicate them from Chesapeake Bay.
Mute swans are deemed “invasive” by the DNR — a loophole from federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act protections — but they are naturalized members of the biocommunity.
Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral states, “They’ve found an ecological niche here. Let them be. The DNR’s assault on mute swans is deeply dishonest and deplorable.”
“We too have come onto the continent and proliferated. We should be disrupting the lives of free-living animals as little as possible, and addressing the main causes of the state of the Chesapeake Bay, the country’s largest estuary.”
The demise of aquatic vegetation is mainly caused by sewage treatment plants, runoffs from animal agribusinesses, construction and road-building. All of these factors degrade water quality, making the Bay water turbid and blocking sunlight that gives underwater vegetation the energy it needs to grow.
“NPR and other media outlets have said plenty about how the chicken-selling industry is damaging the Chesapeake,” observes Feral. “But Maryland officials fiddle, and target undomesticated birds.”
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