The C.A.S.H. Courier Newsletter
Wildlife Watch’s Shortened Comments on the Draft Management Plan for Mute Swans in NYS
By Anne Muller
In this draft plan, the Bureau of Wildlife (BOW) of the DEC proposes
eliminating all mute swans by 2025. BOW asserts that the mute swan is
not native, is aggressive, destroys submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV),
displaces native wildlife species, degrades water quality, and is hazardous
The plan proposes entirely wiping out all free-ranging mute swans, in
spite of the observation that the mute swan population in NYS has been
stable over the past decade, and over a period of 110 years has grown to a
total state population of merely 2,200 individuals.
In the section
titled: MANAGEMENT GOALS AND STRATEGIES, Point 1, it is clear that one
ultimate goal of the plan is the replacement of mutes with trumpeter and
tundra swans. BOW writes: As trumpeter swans…and tundra swans (both of
which are native to North America) become more common in New York, they may
satisfy some of the public desire to see free-ranging swans in NY, so
outreach efforts will direct some interests to those native species. The
statement would give the impression that the population of trumpeter swans
is naturally occurring. However, building a free-ranging, breeding
population of trumpeter swans is an orchestrated introduction of this
species that was never native to New York State.
One need only look at the website of the special interest group, the
Trumpeter Swan Society, headquartered in MN, to learn its goals and
affiliation with wildlife management agencies, and its persistent,
aggressive, and, no doubt, well-funded demand to introduce this swan species
throughout the United States, although it is well-documented that their
breeding range never included eastern states.
Wildlife Watch opposes this plan which seeks to destroy the naturalized
mute swans, and further opposes the implementation of an introduction of
non-NYS native swans, which is currently in progress. Aside from not being
native New Yorkers, there is no evidence that trumpeter swans will be at all
different in the very aspects that are being used to condemn the mute swans.
In fact, the larger size of trumpeters ensures that they will require more
food, and will defecate even more than their naturalized cousins.
BOW’s draft management plan incorporates so many “mays” and “coulds,”
that it skates along the edge of truth while propagandizing. For
example, it asserts that “Too much fecal matter [they assume ALL fecal
matter is caused by mute swans, and not humans or other wildlife] MAY
contribute to fecal coliform, which MAY be a concern to public health, and
COULD affect shell fishing on Long Island.” Such uncertainty expressed
here indicates that mute swan fecal matter IS NOT a REAL concern. We
ask (rhetorically) if the poop from leaching septics, kids who swim in the
water, dogs who play in the water, and huntable waterfowl who live in the
water, is a politically sanitized poop that renders it of no concern?
The Draft Plan, in keeping with BOW’s wildlife management for hunting
goals, naturally proposes allowing the hunting of mute swans, along with
removing them for private enterprises. That, while trumpeters are being bred
and introduced at two primary sites in NYS. One site is the private 5,000
acre canned hunt facility called Savannah Dhu, which is owned by Robert
Congel, a mall developer and large political contributor. Among the
people he has entertained at Savannah Dhu is Governor Andrew Cuomo going
back to his days as a NYC housing official. In addition to Savannah
Dhu, there are other canned hunt facilities in NYS where swans may be
hunted. Please visit this link if there is any doubt that swans are
hunted privately in NYS, and note that all are licensed by BOW:
Majestic swans reduced to this sad state by BOW. Photo is from BOW's
Waterfowl managers do not want huntable populations of waterfowl,
including Canada geese, reduced by mute swans, although trumpeter swans will
have the same impact as the mutes do now once they are introduced as
free-ranging breeding populations.
On federal waterfowl management areas in NYS, and NYS wildlife management
areas, population controls are minimized so as to yield the largest
waterfowl populations. On those lands, habitat and water manipulation
favor maximum populations. Further, within the management areas, wild
animals are trapped, and even dogs and cats may be shot on sight for the
threat they pose to waterfowl populations.
Replacing mutes with trumpeters has been discussed at flyway meetings at
the behest of the Trumpeter Swan Society and hunters for at least 20 years.
I personally recall a committee meeting at which waterfowl management agents
discussed trying to find evidence that trumpeters were ever in the Atlantic
Flyway so that they could legally proceed with a more palatable
“REintroduction.” When one waterfowl manager said he had found a
citation that indicated there was a trumpeter spotted in the 1800s, they all
seemed to breathe a sigh of relief!
Allowing the population to gradually be reduced by natural population
controls, ending habitat manipulation on wildlife management areas, ending
cooperative agreements with large landowners to allow their lands to be used
for propagation, stopping the trapping of natural predators, allowing the
swan population to keep the Canada goose population in check during breeding
seasons, are all alternatives that should be used – and would be used if BOW
were not managing wildlife strictly for the benefit of the small minority of
the population that hunts.
While the DEC is a proponent of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a
process for extracting gas that is notorious for destroying drinking water -
and for which there is plenty of data documenting the deadly consequences
for every species that lives in a fracked area — it seems extremely
hypocritical of the DEC to be so concerned over the few mute swans who eat
SAV, thus proposing an extremist plan to kill them all.
Oblivious to its own discordance, illogic, and misplaced concerns, BOW
arrogantly lists the ways they should spend our tax dollars to convince us
that 100% removal of mute swans is necessary, and they insist it must be
done fast in order to protect the environment: BOW suggests printing
brochures to overcome what they call the lack of understanding by the public
about why it’s important to kill or remove the mute swans. They also
suggest assigning staff to cooperate with “conservation [hunting] groups” in
local areas and encourage municipalities to allow public and private areas
to be used to kill and capture mute swans.
In Point 5 of the Plan, which on its surface seems benign, they suggest
“Allow[ing] free-ranging mute swans to be taken and possessed by licensed
persons.” However, Wildlife Watch would object to this if the capture and
possession were not in the best interest of the swans. If the
possessor is a wildlife rehabilitator, a park such as Popcorn Park in NJ, a
place of sanctuary for the welfare of the swans, then we can accept Point 5
if the condition of the swan warrants it. If, however, the purpose is
to use the swans for canned hunt operations, for breeding, for sale to
further exploit them, or for any purpose that does not benefit the
individual swans, then Wildlife Watch opposes it. Point 5 needs to be
very carefully detailed, and necessitates far more transparency of purpose
and scope than the Plan presently provides.
Finally, to whitewash the killing of mutes, BOW’s Plan proposes donating
the flesh of mute swans to zoos and the “needy.” This is risky
business at best as the USDA does not inspect wild animal flesh. As
there is no control of the living conditions of the animal, the contaminants
the animal has been subjected to in the environment, the food the animal has
eaten prior to being killed, or the water they have drunk, they can offer no
guarantees as to the quality of the meat. Basically, a hunter
inspection involves a quick look.
In 1996, the NYS Department of Health, Social Services and Ag & Markets
were asked to approve deer flesh from a cull for distribution to the “poor
and needy.” They said, We cannot, and should not engage in selective
enforcement of the law or establish separate standards of food safety.
The poor and homeless are entitled to receive the same level of health
protections from government as those more fortunate…We do not take issue
with hunters who choose to consume game meat which they have killed since
they do so at their own risk. However, the general public should not
be exposed unwittingly to the potential food safety risks of consuming wild
game which are ‘processed’in this fashion.
BOW’s imprudent suggestion stands in stark contrast to a recent recall of
9 million pounds of meat because, according to the USDA, it was processed
“without the full benefit of federal inspection.”
WE CALL UPON NY TO SPARE THE MUTE SWANS FROM
We call upon Mayor Bill De Blasio to keep our NYC owned
property in the state safe for wild animals and for the public. We
urge him to keep our mute swans safe from BOW’s plans to rid the state of
IF OUR REGULATORS CANNOT REGULATE, THEN OUR LEGISLATORS MUST LEGISLATE.
In the light of its plans to pass regulations to eliminate the
free-ranging mute swan population, we ask that our NYS Legislature take
active control over BOW that operates within the DEC. Regulatory free
rein has truly been a reign of terror against wildlife. The only way
the majority of people, the real public, not merely hunters, can ever have
hope of taking back its wildlife from the deadly grasp of BOW (a bureau tied
to the firearms industry and in the business of killing wild animals) is to
put BOW under legislative control.
Mute swans are, in truth, among the most magnificent animals to grace our
Since the plan was announced, it has come under so much attack
from the public that BOW sent the agents back to the drawing board. We
applaud NYS Senator Tony Avella who has introduced S6589, which
imposes a two-year moratorium on the killing of mute swans by declassifying
them as a “prohibited invasive species.”
View the Regal Swan Society
Go on to C.A.S.H. Comments On: The Black
Bear Management Plan for New York State 2014-2024
Spring 2014 Table of Contents
C.A.S.H. Courier Article Archive