This spring, as the Mute Swans of the Chesapeake Bay prepare their nests, agents of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources plan to be loading their guns and taking aim at 1500 of the graceful white birds.

Friends of Animals is urging Maryland residents to load up their videocameras and participate in the Swan Watch Network, launched this week to engage the public in providing maximum exposure if the state goes ahead with the swan slaughter.

According to Bill Dollinger, Director of FoA’s Washington DC office, “Maryland citizens need to be fully informed of lethal activities which are carried out in their name and funded through state tax dollars. If the DNR implements this swan-killing scheme, Friends of Animals will do everything in our power to draw attention to the slaughter. We are putting the word out to Maryland residents and landowners that we are willing to pay up to $1000 for quality videotaped footage of the harassment or killing of Mute Swans by DNR bureaucrats.”

FoA expects an enthusiastic response from Maryland residents. According to FoA Maryland Advisor Patrick Hornberger, “The DNR program to eradicate the Mute Swan is neither sensible or believable. DNR may offer all the misleading and shallow research they want to demonize the mute swans, but they are not considering the numerous waterfront property owners who do not agree with this killing spree. Those owners do not see the birds eating any more aquatic grass than any other species of waterfowl or any unnatural aggression DNR attributes to the bird.”

Friends of Animals is considering legal action and is circulating a petition among Maryland landowners to deny property access to the DNR if the swan-killing program is enacted. According to Dollinger, “The Chesapeake Bay is out of balance because of human disturbance and land use. The scape-goating of Mute Swans would be laughable if it were not for the deadly intentions of state wildlife bureaucrats, who simply want to provide hunters with another trophy bird. If they think they will be killing swans out of the public eye, they are mistaken.”

Friends of Animals is an international animal rights organization with more than 200,000 members and supporters, including 5000 Maryland residents, headquartered in Darien, Connecticut.