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CASH Courier > 2002 Spring / Summer Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier
From the Spring / Summer 2002 Issue

Swan Wars - the sequel

The three judges in the mute swan case agreed unanimously that whether the bird is native or non-native is irrelevant, as those words are found nowhere in the treaties, or the Act. So, what donít these people understand about the words  "So ordered," issued by a panel of three federal judges in a federal court?


Mute Swan shot with arrow swims with her cygnet.
Photo sent to C.A.S.H.

"Itís not good." That was the opinion of USF&W Serviceís Steve Wilds, chief of migratory birds at Ft. Snelling, talking to Rob Drieslein. What the chief was saying, was that the plan to eliminate the mute swans from this continent had hit a snag and he was saying it for publication, because Rob is the editor of Hunting News, a newspaper so far west, he refers to Wisconsin as "out east."  "Weíre waiting to hear from solicitors in D.C." Wilds is quoted. Speaking to his readers through his column, Drieslein said, "right now, thereís nothing you can do about it," with a catch in his throat, undoubtedly.

Whatís a killer to do? Remember, we are not talking about opening a season on mutes, which would be bad enough, we are talking about wanton destruction of birds man has loved for thousands of years, in most of the world. Only here are they reviled and targeted for extinction by people like William Sladen of Airlie Research Center in Virginia, well known for botched programs to teach trumpeter swans to migrate. (They are taken away from the nests and so never learn from their parents.) Newspaper reports say almost all of the birds were killed in accidents while his study was in full swing. He even shot the lead bird in the air, for starting to go off the man designed course. Now, he pairs males with males, getting rid of the females (how?) and rents them to families that want them for ponds. Sounds like Dr. Strangelove, to me. The plan to "place by the hand of man" another, bigger bird, the trumpeter, to be a custom grown "trophy bird" for hunters is unconscionable, and Sladen should be stopped, not aided and abetted.

More than a thousand signatures of  Wisconsin citizens, many from hunters, were outvoted by a handful of miscreants and cooperative NGOs like Audubon, Sierra Club, etc. and that state was among the first to request a permit.  Are we devolving into uncivilized, miserable humans, not humane? The swans are only one such case. The mindset is rampant and can be frightening . Donít get frightened, get mad. Stay focused, because you are making a difference. We only wish the change would come along faster.

Since Driesleinís column was written, the FWS has acted illegally, promising to give permits and doing so in New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and probably in Wisconsin. The requirements under the MBTA are strict and are not met in the mute swan situation.

Reasons for giving permits include:

-Numbers of the species so large they must be controlled, the mute swans number under 20,000 nationwide, they should be considered endangered, which they are

  • The birds have to be a proven health hazard, which has never been a charge against mute swans.
  • To use them for medical/scientific research, however the mutes are not on the list of allowable species, which includes wood ducks and eiders. (Despite this, USGS has used them this way for years.)
  • Depredation, primarily of farmland or commercial properties, again not charged against mute swans.

One thing the learned editor suggested was that humane groups would be in the wings waiting for the permits to be given out so that they could sue to stop the action.

SaveOurSwans USA will go into court. And a new group has been formed, MBTA Advocates. These are people who love birds more than hunting and they are willing to speak out. We welcome them and your support.

Kathryn Burton (860) 739-7791, SaveOurSwans USA

SOS_USA@aol.com

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