New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senators Tony Avella and Steve Cymbrowitz 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.
In January, residents reacted with outrage after learning that state officials planned to eliminate all of the wild mute swans in New York, either by capturing or killing them.Under the proposed plan, adult swans in public waters could be shot or euthanized, or they could be caught by those licensed to keep them in captivity.
Mute swans are most prevalent on Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley.
The 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 of only 2,200 across the state.
“Wildlife experts, rehabilitators and environmentalists do not unanimously agree that exterminating the mute swan population is justified," Thiele said. "In addition, there is debate amongst such experts about whether the planned eradication of the mute swan population is even minimally beneficial to the eco-system 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.”
On the East End, the mute swan is often seen in local ponds and waterways, Thiele said, and in all his years of office, he's not received one complaint.
"Mute swans can cause a variety of problems, including exhibiting aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality and potential hazards to aviation," Department of Environmental Conversation representatives countered.
Comments on the draft mute swan plan may be submitted in writing through Jan. 31 to: NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (please type "Swan Plan" in the subject line).
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