State to Revise Swan Plan

A swan and its cygnet Dell Cullum

      The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced today that it will revise its proposed management plan for mute swans and then release it for additional public comment.

      The first plan, put forward by the D.E.C. in December, called for the eradication of the species in the wild in New York State by 2025. In New York, and in other states, mute swans, which were brought to the United States from Eurasia in the 1800s, are considered a non-native, invasive species. According to the D.E.C., "Mute swans can cause a variety of problems, including aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation."

      But the birds, which are distinguished from native swans by their graceful, curved neck, are beloved by many in East Hampton and elsewhere around the state.

      The D.E.C.'s plan drew an onslaught of protest and "many thoughtful and substantive comments," the department's commissioner, Joe Martens, said in a press release. The D.E.C. received more than 1,500 comments on its plan from organizations and individuals and upward of "16,000 form letters and 30,000 signatures on various petitions," the release says.

      As a result, the draft management plan will be revised and put out to the public for another 30-day comment period this spring. "In revising the plan, D.E.C. 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, D.E.C. will consider non-lethal means to achieve the management plan's intended goals."

See what The Star's nature columnist, Larry Penny, had to say.