New York’s mute swans need a voice
FoA, Avella to hold press conference on fate of the majestic birds
ALBANY—Friends of Animals FoA and New York State Sen. Tony Avella will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 12, in the LCA Press Room in the Legislative Office Building to address the Department of Conservation’s revision of its controversial plan to eliminate the state’s 2,200 mute swans, and to urge the agency to protect, not persecute, the swans.
The NY DEC caved under pressure from FoA and legislators who strongly oppose the plan.
“If the NY DEC holds the same scientifically-flawed theories about mute swans, any new proposal will smell like their initial, hateful one,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “FoA isn’t falling for a control scheme that manages swans to extinction—denying these beautiful birds flight, families and the right to live in nature. We oppose the destruction of swan eggs by shaking, piercing or coating eggs with oil. This is invasive and traumatic for protective nesters. A percentage of swans will be traumatized, injured or killed in the process. Instead, we insist on replacing the DEC’s swan extinction proposal with legal protections that prevent harm and allow New York residents to live in harmony with these lovely, treasured birds.”
With input from FoA and ornithologists, Avella filed bill # S6589 Feb. 10 in the New York Senate to establish a two-year moratorium on the DEC’s plan to eradicate all 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. My bill also 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."
DEC’s flimsy attempt to blame 2,200 mute swans for causing significant environmental damage throughout all of New York lacks scientific evidence.
While the diet of mute swans consists of sub aquatic vegetation, 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.
“Our New York City office has been flooded with calls and emails from our members and supporters who are horrified that mute swans may be wiped off the map in New York if the DEC gets its way,” said Edita Birnkrant, NY director of Friends of Animals. “We are committed to gaining full protection for NY’s mute swans and making sure that not a single swan is killed or harassed nor a single swan egg destroyed. Mute swans are a beloved part of New York’s landscape, and our message to the DEC is ‘Hands off NY’s swans.’ ”
The Legislative Office Building is located at 198 State St. in Albany, NY.