Speaking for Mute Swans


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.



  1. I think this is beyond sad that they have nothing better to do then try and destroy this beautiful swan. I live on LI and can’t recall any problems with these swans and think its awful that they are targeting them now…what is the purpose??? and why are tax dollars being wasted on this!! Geez they have nothing better to do??? seriously our government needs a reality check.

  2. The mute swans in our area are a wonderful highlight — along with the blue heron, eagle and other birds. I would have much less reason to paddle if it weren’t for the graceful swans and their trailing children. The swans are a symbol of family values we want to promote.

    The suggestion that it is unfortunate that some people are attached to the swans is seriously misguided. These men with guns are our representatives. It is unfortunate that they feel a need to kill something that is a highlight of our natural world.

    The offered scientific rationale that the bigger eating, bigger pooping trumpeter swan should be favored — even though trumpeter swans first began breeding in the wild in New York in the 1990s, many decades after the mute swan — is scientifically unsound even under invasion biology framework. Who is the “native New Yorker”? The mute swan. Invasion biology is just a different construct with its own labels.

    Here, after the moratorium is over, a mass NYS DEC killing of mute swans will still be subject to injunction as “arbitrary and capricious” administrative action. Any local problem established by the evidence can be addressed pursuant to a local depradation permit.