Both houses of the New York State Legislature passed a bill last week that would require the New York State Department of Conservation to try non-lethal management techniques in any management plan aimed at controlling the population of mute swans.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. would require the DEC to hold public hearings in areas with mute swan populations with a minimum 45-day comment period before adopting any management plan for the estimated 2,200 mute swans in the state.
The DEC stirred controversy last year, when it declared plans to rid the state of non-native mute swans, which were introduced into New York State in the 1800s.
“Many wildlife experts, rehabilitators and environmentalists do not agree that exterminating the mute swan population is justified,” said Mr. Thiele in a press 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.”
“On the East End of Long Island, the mute swan is often visible in local ponds and waterways,” he continued. “My office has not received one report in all my years in office that the mute swan is a nuisance or an environmental problem. This legislation will require all concerned to take a step back and take a hard look before any irrevocable action is taken by the DEC.”
The bill is awaiting Governor Cuomo’s review.