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February 19, 2014

Seek To Stall Swan Kill


In over 20 years of public service, Assemblyman Fred Thiele has never received a complaint about mute swans.

This week, he's co sponsoring a bill that, if adopted, would place a moratorium on the DEC's plan to exterminate all the waterfowl in New York by 2025.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation's strategy involves declaring mute swans a "prohibited invasive species" and killing all 2200 of them living in New York. The swans would be shot or trapped and gassed, and their eggs would be oiled to prevent hatching, according to one report.

Thiele's bill, which he is co-sponsoring with State Senator Tony Avella (D- Queens) and Steve Cynbrowitz (D – Brooklyn), would require the DEC to demonstrate actual damage to the environment or other species caused by mute swans. DEC officials argue the swans are aggressive, befoul the water and force other ducks and waterfowl out.

"Wildlife experts, rehabilitators and environmentalists do not unanimously agree that exterminating the mute swan population is justified. In addition, there is debate amongst such experts about whether the planned eradication of the mute swan population is even minimally beneficial to the eco-system or to our environment. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Department of Environmental Conservation to illustrate the necessity of eradicating this non-native species by demonstrating the actual damage to the environment or other species caused by mute swans," Thiele said in a release announcing the measure.

"My office has not received one report in all my years in office that the mute swan is a nuisance or an environmental problem," he added.

Cygnus olor was brought to North America from Eurasia for ornamental purposes in the late 1800s and were originally kept on the ponds found on estates. They aren't entirely mute, but make less noise than other swans. Mute swans are the largest birds in New York State and distinguished by black face patches with fleshy forehead knobs that overlay an orange bill.

Ironically, the DEC's page related to the species notes in bold letters, ". . . mute swans are protected by the New York State Environmental Conservation Law. Therefore, swans, as well as their nests and eggs, may not be handled or harmed without authorization from DEC."

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