New York state Sen. Tony Avella filed bill # S6589 Feb. 10 in the New York Senate to establish a two-year moratorium on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s DEC plan to eradicate all 2,200 wild mute swans in the state by 2025 and declare them a “prohibited species.”
“I was horrified to learn that our state wildlife agency would make such an extreme, unfounded proposal, and do not believe that the DEC has provided evidence to justify the elimination of these beautiful swans,” Avella said. “The public outcry has been severe—many New York residents do not want to see mute swans eliminated and animal advocacy organizations, wildlife experts, rehabilitators and others have also joined the chorus of opposition. In addition, to imposing a two-year moratorium, my bill requires DEC 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."
In 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 by claiming they can cause a variety of problems in spite of their small numbers, which only equal about one half of one percent of all waterfowl in New York. 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—yet offers no demonstrable evidence of these absurd claims.
“We are thankful that Sen. Avella responded to our urgent request to file this legislation, which we hope will help save the mute swan species in New York from the DEC’s vile extinction plan,” said Friends of Animals’ NY Director Edita Birnkrant.
“Our NY office has been swamped with phone calls and emails from frantic New York residents horrified that mute swans may be wiped out completely. The public is against this plan and we vow to stop it. In fact, FoA is requesting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo issue a New York state proclamation to recognize March 10-16, 2014, as Swan Appreciation Week. NYDEC’s hateful attitudes towards mute swans must be reversed—they are out of step with the very residents of New York whose tax dollars fund the agency.”
Donald S. Heintzelman, ornithologist, author and authority on Northern migratory swans and mute swans states, “My professional opinion is that these public disputes about mute swans are overblown and unnecessary. These birds do not cause catastrophic damage, although most state wildlife agencies have engrained in their official mindsets the notion that mute swans should be destroyed merely because they are non-native species that might compete with native tundra swans and more rarely trumpeter swans. In fact, tundra swans very rarely are seen in New York State (and hence are irrelevant to the agencies’ mindsets).
“As for the few trumpeter swans living at two locations in the state, they are geographically far removed from Long Island and thus are not impacted by mute swans on Long Island. Certainly, mute swans are not pushing out New York’s small population of trumpeter swans. Furthermore, arguments that mute swans are aggressive, and also consume large amounts of submerged aquatic vegetation, are greatly overblown—and represent bad science.”
Friends of Animals has been rallying support to stop the plan since it was announced in December and released an official statement Feb. 10, which can be read here. A public comment period on the DEC plan remains open until Feb. 21.
The text of Senate Bill #S6589 can be read here.
We are urging NY supporters to:
●Contact their state legislators and ask them to sign on as co-sponsors and urge passage of Senate Bill # S6589 to stop the plan to kill mute swans.
● Write a letter to the editor to one of New York’s larger newspapers expressing support for Senate Bill # S6589.