DEC backtracks on plan for mute swans

A mute swan mother with her cygnets in East Marion. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
A mute swan mother with her cygnets in East Marion. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

After getting pushback from lawmakers and thousands of residents, state environmental officials are considering major changes to a management plan that called for the eradication of New York’s wild mute swan population by 2025.

Included in those changes is a plan to achieve newly revised population goals that are unique to various areas of the state, and to achieve those goals through “non lethal means,” state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said.

The original plan, released by the state in mid-January, called for the killing or capture of all free-ranging swans within 10 years.

During the public comment period that closed Feb. 21, the DEC received more than 1,500 comments on the plan as well as more than 16,000 form letters and 30,000 signatures on petitions, DEC officials said Friday.

State lawmakers had also introduced legislation that would have given the swans a two-year reprieve, while the DEC would be required to demonstrate the actual damage to the environment or other species that have been caused by the estimated 2,200 mute swans across the state, most of which are on Long Island and in the lower Hudson Valley area.

In a statement Friday, DEC commissioner Joe Martens said the agency had received “many thoughtful and substantive comments” over the last five weeks.

“DEC is listening to these comments and concerns and will revise the draft plan and provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the revised plan this spring,” he said. “The revised plan will seek to balance the conflicting views about management of mute swans in New York.”

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