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Stop Mute Swan Slaughter in NY

January 30, 2014 | Take Action

Update: You can listen to our New York Director, Edita Birnkrant, on BBC World Review at the 35:15 mark, opposite a Cornell Professor of Wildlife Conservation who supports the heinous plan to kill all wild mute swans in NY State. Birnkrant defends the swans and advocates fiercely against the plan.

Audubon Betrays Swans

The mute swan was named by the United States government as the International Symbol of Peace in the 1970s. Now they have come to symbolize the war on wildlife that the government is waging and that Audubon NY condones. 

This year the government has decided it wants to slaughter all mute swans in New York over the next decade, despite the fact the bird has legions of admirers. New Yorkers and tourists flock to parks specifically to observe these regal creatures gliding along the water, minding their own business.  

In a New York Times article “New York Wants to Banish a Symbol of Love: Mute Swans” dated  Jan. 29,  Mike Burger, director of conservation and science for Audubon New York, said the statewide group  “is very comfortable moving forward with a position that is supportive of the D.E.C.’s plan.” 

In the DEC's preposterous Draft Management Plan for Mute Swans in New York State, which Friends of Animals opposes, the agency tries to justify this potential killing spree and extermination of  2,200 free-living mute swans by claiming they can cause a variety of problems. It claims the problems include aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation SAV, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality and potential hazards to aviation. 

The drafted regulation calls for a mass slaughter by shooting, destruction of eggs and sterilization. In addition it states the "DEC will authorize any property owner, land or water management authority, municipality or other responsible party to control or remove mute swans from their property for any reason." 

“If Audubon is supporting the government's shoot first approach to wildlife, which has resulted in the deaths of millions of birds in the United States, then it is masquerading as a bird loving group,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “In that case, they need to be put out of business. We hope to see real bird lovers tearing up their Audubon membership cards.”

The DEC and by default the Audubon Society contemptuously classifies mute swans as an “invasive, non-native species” in spite of the fact that they’ve been in New York’s lower Hudson Valley since the 1800s and are a valued part of the ecosystem by many New York residents, beautifying lakes, ponds and waterways.

The flimsy attempt to blame 2,200 mute swans for causing significant environmental damage throughout all of New York State is laughable and lacks scientific evidence. On the contrary, human activity involved in contemporary agricultural methods is a much greater hazard to waterways.

While the diet of mute swans consists of SAV, studies have shown that runoff from fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste contribute significantly to the loss of SAV in other areas, like the Chesapeake Bay. Since mute swans constitute only about one half of one percent of the approximately 400,000 waterfowl in New York  counted by the DEC, and the nearly half a million waterfowl also consume aquatic vegetation, killing a relatively small population of mute swans will not contribute significantly to SAV recovery.

Waterfowl are meant to live in the water—they are not the problem—they are just scapegoats to divert attention from what really needs to be done to improve New York’s environmental woes.

As far as aviation safety, the facts show that there have been only four reported instances of airplanes striking mute swans in New York since 1990. The Federal Aviation Administration’s Wildlife Strike Database  confirms this exceeding low number, which any reasonable person would agree cannot possibly be used to wipe out an entire species.  

Demonizing mute swans by classifying them as “aggressive” towards humans is a longstanding tactic of government agencies who want to make a species they find a nuisance disappear.  Mute swans, like many other species, protect their nests and babies. Educating the public to avoid confronting swans or invading their nesting areas would solve any perceived issues. 

Ironically, it’s the DEC and Audubon who are behaving aggressively, engineering a plan to make a beloved species extinct through a mass slaughter through taxpayer’s money. 

Contact Gov. Cuomo and other elected officials to oppose the DEC plan.  Call his office at 518.474.8390 or send an email:

Contact the DEC, which is accepting public comments to their proposal through Feb. 21. Submit  in writing to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or email:
You can also contact the NY DEC Commissioner, Joseph Martens, by calling 518-402-8545 or email and tell him to scrap the plans to wipe out mute swans. 

Contact NY Audubon at 518.869.9731 and tell them you oppose their support of the DEC plan. You can also contact the Director of Conservation and Science, Mike Burger, at




Respect wildlife and halt the plan to kill the mute swans.

How on earth can 2000 swans account for so much environmental damage? Better to change our agricultural habits of the past 50 years than to destroy the wildlife that's inhabited NY for 150 years.

Please do not kill these beautiful birds....the answer is never to kill off a species for whatever ridiculous reason people come up with!I strongly oppose this craziness!I will share with everyone I know and all of my students will be told about this cruel proposition! I hope people speak up to stop this immediately!Shame shame shame!x

I am so aghast over this proposal; it is not only yet another outrageous way to waste taxpayer's dollars, but this time the government has gone too far to actually even consider spending our money to slaughter an entire species.

If this corrupt abuse of authority actually passes, I want to see the top brass out there being the ones pulling the trigger. Do Not send workers making $10/hr out there to be forced to kill the beautiful Mute Swans because they can't afford years of therapy to heal from this emotionally traumatizing experience.

Their arguments do not hold any water; there are plane bird strikes every day, you can't wipe out an entire species because of a few strikes in 24 years or you would be killing every bird on the planet. The aviation industry is going to have to have to take responsibility and use better risk management practices and technology.

As for swans fouling water and detroying aquatic plants....human sewage and run off from domestic animals is the major problem.

These government agencies have to quit lying to the public to push their animal killing agendas through. There is a $$$ reason behind this...are they trying to funnel more money to the USDA WS since they are presently being investigated and audited?

WHY in the name of God would you allow killing of these magnificent animals, all animals deserve life, we have encroached upon them. Have Heart, PLEASE

please do not allow this senseless slaughter to occur ..why is killing the first option al the time . humans have become desensitized and arrogant

Please do not allow the slaughtering of this magnificent animals, we have encroached upon them. HAVE A HEART , PLEASE

Mass slaughter shouldn't even be an option! These animals represent LOVE!!

Evolve. Respect and honor life. You do not have the right to take the life away from any being. Leave the mute swans alone.


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