DEC wants mute swans killed or captured by 2025

VERA CHINESE FILE PHOTO | The DEC aims to kill or capture all mute swans by 2025.

Citing “aggressive behavior towards people” and “destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation,” the state Department of Environment Conservation has released a new plan to kill or capture all wild mute swans by 2025.

The DEC’s Management Plan for Mute Swans in New York State aims to reduce the population of mute swans, which has grown considerably in recent years on Long Island.

A non-native and invasive species, the mute swan was brought to North America from Eurasia in the late 1800s. By 1993, New York’s mute swan population had increased to about 2,000. The population peaked at more than 2,800 birds in 2002 and is currently estimated at about 2,200 birds statewide, according to DEC statistics.

Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley currently have the largest numbers of mute swans, but a rapidly increasing population has taken hold in the Lake Ontario region, the DEC stated.

The birds cause a variety of problems, including aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of native plants, displacement of local wildlife, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation, according to the DEC.

To help eliminate the problems, the organization recently proposed listing mute swans as a “prohibited species” under new Invasive Species regulations. This would prohibit the sale, importation, transport or introduction of this species in New York.

Ultimately, the DEC is looking to eliminate all free-ranging mute swans from New York by 2025. However, people that choose to keep the birds as pets may do so under the proposal.

“Wildlife management can present challenges in trying to balance populations, hunting opportunities and environmental impacts,” DEC commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release.  “These plans will guide the management of these species for the next 10 years.”

The DEC is accepting comments on the mute swan plan through Feb. 21. Mail your thoughts to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or e-mail your comments.

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