ALBANY—A bill (A.3675 ) that seeks to protect mute swans from a state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) plan to eradicate the population in New York has passed the Assembly June 9. A companion bill (S.1555) passed the state Senate last month. An earlier version of the bill, which would impose a two-year moratorium on the DEC plan, passed the legislature last year but was vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the condition that the DEC revise its plan.
“Gov. Cuomo was deceived by the DEC—its new plan is the old insidious plan, which lacks scientific proof that 2,200 swans are damaging the ecosystem, with some new, distracting language thrown in,” said Edita Birnkrant, campaigns director for Friends of Animals. “DEC staff ‘control’ options will include: nest destruction, egg addling, shooting of free-range swans, capture, euthanasia and outrageously, the hunting of mute swans is also being considered as an option. All these options are unnecessary and cruel.”
Friends of Animals is asking Gov. Cuomo not to make the same mistake twice and to sign the bill into law. “Once again, the legislature has spoken, the people have spoken, Friends of Animals and other animal protection organizations have spoken loud and clear…we all want protection for NY’s swans,” Birnkrant said.
During the mandatory two-year moratorium, the bill would require the DEC to publish scientific evidence demonstrating that mute swans are invasive and harmful to the surrounding environment.
“The fact that this bill has now passed the Senate two years in a row is a clear sign demonstrating how New York feels about DEC’s cruel eradication plan for mute swans,” said N.Y. state Sen. Tony Avella, who introduced the bill. “It is inhumane to simply kill these birds without clear proof that they are dangerous to anything around them. With the passage of this bill, we can work to find a method that not only prevents harming these birds, but allows them to live peacefully in New York among humans and other wildlife.”
DEC’s attempt to blame 2,200 mute swans for causing significant environmental damage throughout all of New York is flimsy at best. While the diet of mute swans consists of sub aquatic vegetation (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.
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