Effort to Halt Mute Swan Plan

       A plan by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation to eradicate the population of mute swans statewide by 2025 is being questioned by some state lawmakers who have challenged the agency to prove that the swan population is detrimental.

       According to the D.E.C., the state’s mute swans, which number 2,200, displace native wildlife, destroy aquatic vegetation, degrade water quality, and pose a hazard to aircraft. They also, the agency has said, are aggressive toward people.

       Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. is among the sponsors of legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on having the swans declared a “prohibited invasive species” and eliminated from the wild through trapping and hunting, or destroying their eggs.

       According to a press release issued by Mr. 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.”

       The legislation, co-sponsored by New York State Senators Tony Avella of Queens and Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz of Brooklyn, would, said Mr. Thiele, “require all concerned to take a step back and take a hard look before any irrevocable action is taken by the D.E.C.”

       “My office has not received one report in all my years in office that the mute swan is a nuisance or an environmental problem,” said Mr. Thiele in his press release.

       News of the D.E.C.’s grim plans for mute swans prompted a number of citizens’ efforts, including a petition drive, to oppose the elimination of the species.

       A public comment period on the plan ends tomorrow. Comments may be e-mailed to fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us.