Featured Letter: In defense of the mute swans

To the editor:

The New York State Department of Conservation can start killing and mutilating (amputating) wings of healthy wild mute swans if the mute swan bill passed by the state Senate does not get voted on before the Assembly recesses. The DEC’s plan states the swans are non-native and invasive. Current research and worldwide swan and wetland habitat specialists state mute swans serve as an indicator species in alerting to problems in the environment, something the DEC readily admits in its plan. These same swan/wetland habitat specialists and current researchers dispute that the mute swans are any more detrimental to the environment or aggressive than any other wildlife species protecting their young. The DEC seems to ignore this research.

Yet, the DEC farms and introduces 30,000 non-native Asian pheasants, which have been shown to be invasive by displacing other wildlife through laying eggs in other birds’ nests. Among others, the DEC also farms and introduces approximately 1.8 million non-native European brown trout into the natural habitat. The trout is listed as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world (International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Columbia University, and National Park Service). The trout destroys native species and habitats. Once again, the NY DEC violates their own policy on invasive species and ignores current research because it makes millions from hunting and fishing permits.

Do these money-making ventures give the NY DEC a free pass on violating NY’s Invasive Species Act?

Can all the DEC’s introduced non-native invasive species be hunted and fished? The numbers of released birds and fish would indicate (by common sense) that some are going to escape capture. We seriously doubt 2,200 swans can do more damage than 30,000 non-native and invasive pheasants and 1.8 million trout released annually by the DEC. The DEC’s farming and releasing of this many pheasants and trout seriously diminishes their argument that mute swans are going to exponentially increase. The Assembly needs to get this bill passed before the summer recess.

Sheila Bolin
The Regal Swan Foundation Inc.