Town Pond Swan Doesn't Make It

Swan fell victim to a car accident in East Hampton Village on Monday.
Jane Gill, a transport volunteer with the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center, carried the mute swan injured near Town Pond to her car. Carissa Katz

     An adult mute swan that was hit by a car near Town Pond in East Hampton Village on Monday suffered injuries too serious to repair and was euthanized shortly after at Dr. Jonathan Turetsky's veterinary office in East Hampton.

     The swan, one of a pair often seen at the pond, was hit on James Lane around noon. East Hampton Village police were contacted and several people called Dr. Turetsky's office, which in turn contacted the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays. Jane Gill, a transport volunteer, arrived on the scene to take the injured bird to the veterinarian's office. Its mate watched from a distance, uttering a shrill call.

     "Unfortunately, it's a pretty sad story," Dr. Turetsky said on Monday afternoon. "One of the swan's wings was badly shattered; it had a compound fracture above the elbow," he said. The wing could not be repaired and amputation, he said, was not an option as swans do very poorly in the wild after such surgery. It also had "nerve damage to its right foot and pretty significant head trauma," he said.

     In consultation with the wildlife rescue center, it was decided that euthanizing it was the most humane option, the veterinarian said.

     The dead swan's mate will likely remain on his or her own for now. "They do mourn for quite a while, but they will eventually take another mate," Ginnie Frati, the executive director of the wildlife rescue center, said Monday. He or she — Dr. Turetsky was unsure of the sex of the dead swan — "probably won't take a mate this year," Ms. Frati said. But the remaining swan could make its home elsewhere and a new swan pair may take the place of that pair on the pond, as has often happened over the years.

     Dr. Turetsky's office sees injured wild animals almost every day, he said, and he often performs surgery on those animals when their injuries are treatable. "We had a deer in yesterday that had two badly fractured back legs," he said. It had apparently suffered with the injuries for several days. It was pregnant, he said, but attempts to deliver the fawns and save the doe were not successful.

     Had it been possible to treat the deer or the swan, each would have been taken to the wildlife center to be cared for in its animal hospital, and then rehabilitated and released back into the wild, Ms. Frati said. If a controversial mute swan management plan put forward by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is adopted, the center would be prohibited from releasing mute swans back into the wild. Technically, the species is an invasive one, and the D.E.C., joining wildlife agencies in several other states, is calling for the total eradication of mute swans by 2025. The deadline for comments on this plan was Friday.

     If the plan had been in place and the swan could have been saved, "We would only have been able to release it to a swan sanctuary" and not into the wild, Ms. Frati said. She is not, however, aware of any swan sanctuaries. The wildlife center has weighed in against the D.E.C.'s proposed swan management plan, Ms. Frati said. "We can't ethically euthanize a healthy animal," she said. "If this passes, they would want us to put them to sleep."