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.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news

Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
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

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week