Update: You can listen to our New York Director, Edita Birnkrant, on BBC World Review at the 35:15 mark, opposite a Cornell Professor of Wildlife Conservation who supports the heinous plan to kill all wild mute swans in NY State. Birnkrant defends the swans and advocates fiercely against the plan.
Audubon Betrays Swans
The mute swan was named by the United States government as the International Symbol of Peace in the 1970s. Now they have come to symbolize the war on wildlife that the government is waging and that Audubon NY condones.
This year the government has decided it wants to slaughter all mute swans in New York over the next decade, despite the fact the bird has legions of admirers. New Yorkers and tourists flock to parks specifically to observe these regal creatures gliding along the water, minding their own business.
In a New York Times article “New York Wants to Banish a Symbol of Love: Mute Swans” dated Jan. 29, Mike Burger, director of conservation and science for Audubon New York, said the statewide group “is very comfortable moving forward with a position that is supportive of the D.E.C.’s plan.”
In the DEC's preposterous Draft Management Plan for Mute Swans in New York State, which Friends of Animals opposes, the agency tries to justify this potential killing spree and extermination of 2,200 free-living mute swans by claiming they can cause a variety of problems. It claims the problems include aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation SAV, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality and potential hazards to aviation.
The drafted regulation calls for a mass slaughter by shooting, destruction of eggs and sterilization. In addition it states the "DEC will authorize any property owner, land or water management authority, municipality or other responsible party to control or remove mute swans from their property for any reason."
“If Audubon is supporting the government's shoot first approach to wildlife, which has resulted in the deaths of millions of birds in the United States, then it is masquerading as a bird loving group,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “In that case, they need to be put out of business. We hope to see real bird lovers tearing up their Audubon membership cards.”
The DEC and by default the Audubon Society contemptuously classifies mute swans as an “invasive, non-native species” in spite of the fact that they’ve been in New York’s lower Hudson Valley since the 1800s and are a valued part of the ecosystem by many New York residents, beautifying lakes, ponds and waterways.
The flimsy attempt to blame 2,200 mute swans for causing significant environmental damage throughout all of New York State is laughable and lacks scientific evidence. On the contrary, human activity involved in contemporary agricultural methods is a much greater hazard to waterways.
While the diet of mute swans consists of SAV, studies have shown that runoff from fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste contribute significantly to the loss of SAV in other areas, like the Chesapeake Bay. Since mute swans constitute only about one half of one percent of the approximately 400,000 waterfowl in New York counted by the DEC, and the nearly half a million waterfowl also consume aquatic vegetation, killing a relatively small population of mute swans will not contribute significantly to SAV recovery.
Waterfowl are meant to live in the water—they are not the problem—they are just scapegoats to divert attention from what really needs to be done to improve New York’s environmental woes.
As far as aviation safety, the facts show that there have been only four reported instances of airplanes striking mute swans in New York since 1990. The Federal Aviation Administration’s Wildlife Strike Database confirms this exceeding low number, which any reasonable person would agree cannot possibly be used to wipe out an entire species.
Demonizing mute swans by classifying them as “aggressive” towards humans is a longstanding tactic of government agencies who want to make a species they find a nuisance disappear. Mute swans, like many other species, protect their nests and babies. Educating the public to avoid confronting swans or invading their nesting areas would solve any perceived issues.
Ironically, it’s the DEC and Audubon who are behaving aggressively, engineering a plan to make a beloved species extinct through a mass slaughter through taxpayer’s money.
Contact Gov. Cuomo and other elected officials to oppose the DEC plan. Call his office at 518.474.8390 or send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the DEC, which is accepting public comments to their proposal through Feb. 21. Submit in writing to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or email: email@example.com
You can also contact the NY DEC Commissioner, Joseph Martens, by calling 518-402-8545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him to scrap the plans to wipe out mute swans.
Contact NY Audubon at 518.869.9731 and tell them you oppose their support of the DEC plan. You can also contact the Director of Conservation and Science, Mike Burger, at email@example.com