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NYS Senator Avella introduces bill to squash DEC’s plan to eradicate mute swans in New York

February 11, 2014 | Mute Swans

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.



The mute swans are sweet animals and don't deserve this. They swim up to my dock behind my house, I feed them, & they appreciate it. The only time they hiss is if my pup gets too close, but they don't ever attack. I also see them in the canal and the bay when I am out kayaking & we respect each others space. As long as you show that you mean their babies no harm then they just do their thing.

have wrote to my legislators and to NY Post and NY times .

I don't live in NY other wise Id be up all night corresponding every lawmaker in the state. In my town, a lawmaker publicly posed for photos while he palmed all of the waterfowls eggs so that they would be abandoned and die.

“As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. “
Ecclesiastes 3:18 - 20

Save our beautiful swans.

Isn’t the purpose of the DEC to protect our wildlife including water fowl? Although they are not indigenous to this area, does that mean the DEC has the right to kill them? Should we empower them to make this heinous decision? There are many other species not indigenous to the United States. Does that mean we should eliminate them as well? They are aggressive only when protecting their young. But isn’t that true of many other species, including humans? How does that justify them being killed? 

As a wildlife rehabilitator who works very closely with the swans, I found them to be the most gentle and intelligent birds alive. To me, the mute swans represent grace, beauty, and mother nature at its best! If we destroy these magnificent birds, we are destroying ourselves in the process. The DEC’s logic is simply flawed and incomprehensible.

Thank you Friends of Animals!

Please don't kill these beautiful creatures. It's so wrong to kill innocent, sentient beings. Swans are pure poetry; songs, ballet, art itself bespeaks their beauty.

Good for senator Avella! This swan killing business is just another sorry item for the DEC in a long history of sorry items. This agency has been out of control for some time and should be reined in, if not condemned for their lack of humaneness, insensitivity, and general over-all stupidity. Again, good for Avella, and thumbs up for the swans. Honk, honk!

We live in Dallas but have a lake home on Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario. We totally support Senator Avella's plan. We LOVE the swans. We should be celebrating them versus trying to eradicate them. Come on NYDEC, get your priorities straight and focus on things like getting rid of the green algae, which really is harmful to humans and the environment and please let the beautiful swans live in peace.

We need to stop killing the wildlife. We kill wolves, coyotes, Canada geese, and lately snowy owls. Being an invasive is not an issue, it's just an excuse. Are wolves and coyotes invasive yet we slaughter them relentlessly because they compete with hunters for deer and elk. So now we have too many deer and elk so we have to kill them, too.

Leave the mute swans alone. They are beautiful creatures and didn't ask to be brought here.


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