New York State weighs plan to kill or capture mute swans

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposes to kill or capture all mute swans by 2025 because of their aggressive nature and threat to native wildlife.

According to the plan, adult swans on public land will be shot or euthanized and their nests and eggs destroyed

The proposed policy follows other states like Michigan and Maryland, who also determined this non-native bird as too much of a threat to local wildlife.

DEC has also announced 115 other native species may be outlawed.

Mute swans are the largest bird in New York with a 7-foot wingspan, and weigh 20-25 pounds. They are known for their orange and black bills.

“I don’t know why they would pick on mute swans,” said Sally Newbert, who works on the board of the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society.  “They’re beautiful birds.”

The swans were originally brought from Europe for their aesthetic value in the 1800s, and privately bred.

Nassau SPCA spokesman Gary Rogers says the mute swans should not be eliminated, “We have brought these animals here, and we have a responsibility to find a way to manage these animals better, but to completely say, ‘We’re basically going to eradicate them’ — what’s next?”

The birds have known to be aggressive to humans, and been deemed highly-invasive by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation  as they destroy aquatic vegetation, displace native wildlife, degrade water quality.

In 1910, there were 500 mute swans, now an estimated 2,200 statewide, 1900 on Long Island, and rapidly increasing, according to the DEC.

Originally, they were only prevalent on Long Island and in the lower Hudson Valley, but have now expanded as far as Lake Ontario.

New York State also announced an initiative to control black bear population.

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