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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




Job 12:7-10
King James Version (KJV)
7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:

8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.

9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?

10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

Please consider the Royal Parks in the United Kingdom and their solution to having the swans as ambassadors. Please reconsider the decision as it will forever doom our children to see Mute Swans in picture books.

Hello, I am appalled to hear of this planned slaughter of the Mute Swans, and this is an absolute betrayal of New York and the society for birds worldwide. I know that the birds are very protective of their habitats, but all of us want to protect our homes. I did hear about the man who was alledgedly drowned by the birds while kayaking but I know not all of the birds should be slaughtered or their reproduction hindered because of this one terrible incident. These birds bring many tourists to NY so what will it be like when they are gone... they will be missed and tourists will not be happy, neither will New Yorkers. Whenever around wildlife there is always a certain amount of risk you take and that is a part of life as the way I see it. I scuba dive but if I am attacked in the wild then I have to assume the risk, just like if I go hiking in the park and get attacked by wildlife I have to assume the risk, whatever life offers there is always risk. Please let me know what I can do to help. Thank you.

I am devastated to hear of the plan to slaughter mute swans.I am 81 and have no hope of doing much to help improve my grandchildren and great-grandchildren's world in the years I have left, but this one seems doable if a few more thousand people object. Call to arms animal lovers and stop the plan.

I would like to add my voice against the massacre of a species that has caused no significant issues for the past 200 years.

Humans are the direct cause for most of the environmental issues we have today. Why not focus on protecting our waterways by addressing the habits of the real culprits?

I do not agree with the plan to eliminate mute swans. They are being singled out, as most wildlife when threatened will become aggressive including geese. I kayak and I am respectful of wildlife and know not to approach any wild animal when they are with their young. Knowing these boundaries, I have not experienced aggression.

Lakes are full of seaweed and unwanted vegetation. The Finger Lakes where I own property regularly has a machine come to cut and take the seaweed away.

I am not against population control such as addling of eggs, but I am against the slaughter or hunting of these fine animals.

What is sad is that these birds were named by the United States government as the International Symbol of Peace in the 1970s. I feel that symbols of our country such as doves, eagles and flags are important and to disrespect this symbol is dishonorable.

Please do not kill these birds.

Ok ... are you seriously considering this?!?!?!?!? This is mass animal murder! Relocate them if need be but DO NOT kill them. What is wrong with you people?? These are God's creations, beautiful animals ... that have a right to live out their lives as much as any human does.

Stop unnecessary slaughter plan of beautiful mute swan, it is our duty to protect wildlife not destroy innocent wildlife.


Another absurd and appalling attempt by the long discredited DEC (hired killers for the USDA) and now considered a "rogue agency" by 2 senators demanding an investigation into their tax-payer-funded slaughter of millions and millions of wildlife (wolves, deer, buffalo, prairie dogs,mute swan and other waterfowl). They do the bidding of "special interests" (ranchers, farmers...already highly subsidized by tax-payers) on our dime!!! As for the Audubon Society, that is another hoax/joke on the American public. For years they have supported the killing of feral cats and other "invasive species"...if you are supporting them, you are supporting an anti-animal and wildlife agenda!


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