New York plans to cull wild mute swans

The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

Once considered a valuable commodity in the UK, mute swans are protected by both a Royal charter and the Wildlife and Countryside Act – but it’s a
different story in the United States, where the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation has declared war on the elegant birds.

Despite their undoubted beauty, mute swans, which were brought to America by European settlers in the 1800s, have a vicious side. They destroy the habitats of native ducks and geese, attack other waterfowl and people, and pose a risk to passenger jets.

Draft proposals have declared the swans a “prohibited invasive species” and outline plans to eliminate virtually all of the 2,200 swans in the state by 2025, the New York Times reported.

The birds would either be shot or captured and gassed, while eggs on nests would be oiled to stop them from hatching. A final plan is expected later this year.

But the proposals, which are widely supported by conservationists and bird-watchers, have caused uproar among animal activists.

“I knew there would be a lot of passionate defenders of swans, but we can’t base our management policies just on the aesthetics of a bird when it has such negative impacts,” said Bryan Swift, the conservation agency’s statewide waterfowl specialist, told the New York Times.

The state plans to appease its critics by allowing private landowners to apply for permits to keep mute swans on their property, provided they prevent the birds form roaming elsewhere.

The state would also seek permission from private property owners and from local and county governments to destroy swans on their land.

Pressure group Goose Watch NYC, which was set up to protest against the annual culling of Canada geese, has vehemently denounced the move.

"It's just outrageous to try to exterminate an entire species that has been living in the state for more than 150 years, almost 200 years," Watch founder David Karopkin told AFP.

"I've yet to find anyone who has been seriously injured by a mute swan," he said.

"When they're being aggressive it's often in relation to them protecting their nest, their babies. I mean people need to have some common sense," he added.

However, other environmental organisations have shown support for the plans. Mike Burger, director of conservation and science for Audubon New York, told the New York Times: “It’s not something we do lightly. We have a general position that says we favour non-lethal control methods when possible.

“But in this case, there is a good basis for reaching a conclusion that in order to reduce the population to desired levels, lethal control is necessary.”

The number of mute swans in New York State has tripled in the past 30 years. Wildlife biologists and conservationists say that the surge in numbers has been partly caused by people feeding the birds. A 1993 plan to reduce them to 500 statewide proved unsuccessful.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high