Thiele Backs Moratorium on Swan Cull

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has co-sponsored legislation to halt a plan being considered by the Department of Environmental Conservation to eradicate the free-ranging swan population throughout the state—for two years.

If adopted, the moratorium would bar the DEC from declaring mute swans a “prohibited invasive species” and from moving forward with a culling plan targeting all 2,200 wild mute swans in New York, reducing the population to zero by 2025.

“Wildlife experts, rehabilitators and environmentalists do not unanimously agree that exterminating the mute swan population is justified,” Thiele said in a statement. “In addition, there is debate amongst such experts about whether the planned eradication of the mute swan population is even minimally beneficial to the eco-system or to our environment. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Department of Environmental Conservation to illustrate the necessity of eradicating this non-native species by demonstrating the actual damage to the environment or other species caused by mute swans.”

According to the DEC, the mute swan is an invasive species, brought to North America from Eurasia in the 1800s for aesthetic value. The DEC says mute swans may cause a number of problems, “including aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation.”

“On the East End of Long Island, the mute swan is often visible in local ponds and waterways,” Thiele said. “My office has not received one report in all my years in office that the mute swan is a nuisance or an environmental problem. This legislation will require all concerned to take a step back and take a hard look before any irrevocable action is taken by the DEC.”

The plan is still just a draft. Comments may be submitted in writing through February 21 to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or emailed to fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

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