Onondaga County Three New York lawmakers proposed a bill last week that, if passed, could allow mute swans to continue to live in the wild.
After the New York State Department of Conservation released a report in December, which stated that it is seeking to eliminate the state’s mute swan population by 2025, residents and elected officials joined together to fight back. New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele of Long Island and State Sens. Tony Avella of Queens and Steve Cymbrowitz of Brooklyn have teamed up to co-sponsor legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to declare mute swans a “prohibited invasive species” and to kill all of the 2,200 mute swans in the state by 2025.
According to a press release issued by Thiele last week, “Wildlife experts, rehabilitators and environmentalists do not unanimously agree that exterminating the mute swan population is justified. In addition, there is debate amongst such experts about whether the planned eradication of the mute swan population is even minimally beneficial to the ecosystem or to our environment. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Department of Environmental Conservation 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.”
Local biologist and mute swan “guru” Michael Bean of Skaneateles was one of the residents who wrote letters against the proposal following its release. He believes that the new legislation would not have been introduced if it weren’t for the tremendous outcry by New York state residents on social media during the past few weeks.
“Because of social media, a lot of people found out about this,” Bean said. “There have been several petitions out there against the proposal. One, for example, had more than 50,000 signatures last week. I am sure this outcry on social media got people to contact their representatives and that’s why the bill was introduced … and that outcry is because people know that they enjoy these birds and like to see and feed them.”