Hope for Mute Swans

Dell Cullum

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele with Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz and State Senator Tony Avella, is giving hope to fans of East Hampton's mute swans, who are a picturesque presence on Town Pond and other local water bodies.

Earlier this year, New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation proposed a plan to eradicate the state's mute swan population of 2,200 by the year 2025, saying that the non-native birds displace native wildlife and destroy habitat, among other things.

People were upset by the D.E.C.'s plan to hunt and destroy mute swans and their eggs, and eventually the D.E.C. agreed to revisit the plan.

The bill put forward by Mr. Thiele, Mr. Avella, and Mr. Cymbrowitz, which has passed in the state house and senate, requires that the D.E.C. hold at least two public hearings with proper public notice in mute swan areas, after which there must be a public comment period of no less than 45 days. Any resulting management plan would have to give priority to alternative and non-lethal actions, provide a scientific explanation of the threat of future populations and current populations, with additional public education and answer to public comment. The bill will be reviewed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who must sign it for it to become law.

"Many wildlife experts, rehabilitators, and environmentalists do not agree that exterminating the mute swan population is justified," Mr. Thiele said in a release. "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."

"This legislation will enable D.E.C. policy to follow the science regarding mute swans," State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said.