2014-03-07 / Top Stories

No Swan Song After All?


Unaware of DEC’s changing plans, this swan glides along Jamaica Bay just off Broad Channel. Photo by Dan Guarino. Unaware of DEC’s changing plans, this swan glides along Jamaica Bay just off Broad Channel. Photo by Dan Guarino. In the wake of a large scale public flap the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reconsidering its plans to eliminate the population of mute swans.

In late February, State Senator Tony Avella introduced a bill to put a two year moratorium on the DEC’s plan to eradicate all 2,200 wild mute swans in the state by 2025. The agency had declared them a ‘prohibited invasive species,’ posing a threat to aviation, creating problems due to aggressive behavior and causing damage to underwater vegetation.

Now DEC has announced that while the initial public comment period on the draft “Management Plan for Mute Swans in New York State” closed February 21st, they are already considering changes to the draft plan, including an additional opportunity for public comment.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens noted that over the past five weeks, DEC received more than 1,500 comments on the plan from individuals and organizations as well as more than 16,000 form letters and 30,000 signatures on various petitions.

“The draft plan for management for mute swans received significant public interest and DEC received many thoughtful and substantive comments,” Martens said. “DEC is listening to these comments and concerns and will revise the draft plan and provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the revised plan this spring.”

In revising the plan, DEC likely will acknowledge regional differences in status, potential impacts and desired population goals by setting varying goals for different regions of the state. In addition, DEC will consider non-lethal means to achieve the management plan’s intended goals.

DEC will continue to review all public comment, and will issue a revised draft this spring for another 30-day comment period.

Prior to finalizing the revised draft, DEC will meet with key stakeholder groups to ensure that all potential management options are identified and considered. In addition to a revised draft plan, DEC staff will prepare a summary of the comments received and provide a response to the many questions, concerns and ideas expressed by the people of New York.

Martens said, “The revised plan will seek to balance the conflicting views about management of mute swans in New York.” More information about mute swans can be found at the DEC website www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7076.html.

Imported from Europe to the U.S. in the late 1800s, the mute swans are less vocal than other types of swans, but not actually soundless.

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