Under a proposal by the DEC, New York’s mute swan population of 2,200 could be wiped out by 2025. There are at least eight swans in Central New York living on Onondaga Lake that could be affected by the plan. Two of Manlius’ most famous residents, mute swans Manny and Faye (pictured above) are protected from the proposal because the village is licensed to keep them.
continued DEC proposal
Since 1993, the DEC has been operating under a mute swan management policy, which permits the removal of mute swans from lands administered by the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, prohibits the release of captive mute swans into the wild and authorizes issuance of permits for swan control by others on a site-specific basis. However, it claims that because little action has been taken, it was not able to reach its goal of reducing the population of mute swans to 500 by 2013. Currently, there are about 2,200 mute swans in the state.
And under the proposed plan, the DEC would allow 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. Unlicensed adult swans could be shot or euthanized, eggs could be removed from nests and those nests could be destroyed.
In its report, the DEC states that “mute swans can cause a variety of problems, including aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation” as reasons for the proposed purge. But this proposed new legislation would require the DEC to demonstrate the actual damage to the environment or other species that have been caused by the mute swan population.
And Bean, who is best known locally as the biologist who donated mute swans Manny and Faye to the village of Manlius’ Swan Pond in 2010, thinks that the moratorium should be put into effect because he doesn’t think the DEC has done a good enough job of proving that those problems exist.
“The DEC is arguing that the mute swans overgraze the aquatic vegetation, and that there’s not enough for the migratory birds that come through,” Bean said. “But if you go downstate and see the mute swans, they’re domestic birds, so they congregate where people are. They actually do a service, because they clean up the aquatic vegetation where people are, which promotes recreation like boating and swimming. And then they leave in the spring to nest. So instead of pouring chemicals into a lake to kill all of this vegetation, mute swans are providing us a service so that we don’t have to do that.”