Greenwich Time

Letter to the Editor

Mute swans have been under fire at least since 1980, when hunters moved to remove legal protections from the birds. A biologist from Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) called the birds “overgrown starlings” and recommended hunting.

Milan J. Bull, president of a duck hunting group in Connecticut, echoed that opinion. Milan’s son, Milan G. Bull, advocates swan killing through his own work as senior director for the Connecticut Audubon Society. Falling into step is the Nature Conservancy of Connecticut, a group used to accommodating hunters on its lands.

DEP bureaucrats treat hunters as their clients. Thus, when hunters blame swans — rather than, say, the pollution of wetlands, or hunting itself — for diminishing ducks and geese, DEP biologists stand ready to raise an alarm that Connecticut is infested with aggressive, ravenous, and ecologically devastating mute swans.

Over the last three decades, mute swan numbers have remained stable at around 1,000, compared to tens of thousands of Canada geese and ducks. And although swans have been known to enjoy underwater vegetation, to our knowledge they’ve never eliminated a plant species from an ecosystem. Vegetation is threatened mainly by commercial pollution — a human problem, like excess greenhouse gas emissions. This week a DEP waterfowl biologist told me while the agency couldn’t control pollution or global warming, it could control mute swans. Hardly a scientific justification for waging war on any species, let alone a group of a thousand birds.

Mute swans are naturalized citizens of the North American ecology. Indeed, the late Dr. Roger Tory Peterson, who wrote the books the DEP uses, called egg-shaking to prevent swan births a “horrible idea.” Peterson told The New York Times: “My view is to leave them alone.”

Friends of Animals will defend mute swans’ interests in living free from human interference.


Priscilla Feral

Friends of Animals
777 Post Road
Darien, Connecticut 06820