Photo provided by Friends of Animals.
Following backlash in response to eradicate all of the 2,200 mute swans in New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) revised its plans of shooting or euthanizing the birds, however they have not ruled out non-lethal measures to remove the species.
Some reports have suggested the DEC would destroy nests and sterilize the swans with a plan to eliminate the birds by the year 2025 due to their negative effects on subaquatic vegetation, however environmentalists and animal rights groups have teamed up with local lawmakers to fight the plans and dispute the claims.
Friends of Animals (FoA) and State Senator Tony Avella were scheduled this week to hold a press conference in Albany to urge the agency to reverse their approach and ultimately protect the species.
“We oppose the destruction of swan eggs by shaking, piercing or coating eggs with oil. This is invasive and traumatic for protective nesters,” said FoA president Priscilla Feral. “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.”
Following his own discussions with FoA, Avella proposed a bill establishing a two-year moratorium on the DEC’s plan to eliminate the mute swan species and calls for proof of scientific evidence backing claims that the birds are in fact damaging the ecosystem.
“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. “New York residents do not want to see mute swans eliminated and animal advocacy organizations, wildlife experts and others have also joined the chorus of opposition.”
Edita Birnkrant, New York director with FoA, acknowledged that although the species of swans do in fact live off subaquatic vegetation, they constitute a small fraction of the nearly 400,000 waterfowl in the state that also subsist off the same diet.
“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 DEC gets its way,” Birnkrant said.
According to FoA, studies have also shown that runoff from fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste are also a significant contributing factor to the destruction of vegetation.
“We are committed to gaining full protection for New York’s mute swans and making sure that not a single swan is killed or harassed nor a single swan egg destroyed,” she said. “Mute swans are a beloved part of New York’s landscape, and our message to the DEC is ‘Hands off New York’s swans.’ ”