At least not with the two-year moratorium imposed this year. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has been looking to have the Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) declared a prohibited invasive species. The plan was to have all Mute Swans, numbering 2,200 of them killed by 2025.
Since there was a public outcry and petition to stop the action on this proposal, New York State has backed off on going ahead. Now they have revised the eradication method to destroying the nests and sterilizing the swans. They contend the swans are a “pest that pollutes water, displaces native birds, poses a hazard to aviation and shows aggression toward people.” The swans got imported here from Europe in the late 1800s to swim on private estates and decorate their landscapes.
While with a group of birders on Sunday, one of the group leaders was saying we should take baseball bats along on boating trips and help the state kill off the swans. This remark shocked me coming from a prominent birder. I was one that signed the petition to stop the kill.
I asked why this was so important to him and he explained that the swans eat a variety of plant species to consume about up to 8 pounds of vegetation daily, sometimes uprooting plants completely. Adult swans uproot more than they can eat and graze to depths other water fowl cannot reach, leaving little food for other species in shallower portions of lakes and ponds. Submerged aquatic vegetation provides breeding zones, food and shelter for fish, so that is an additional reason for their elimination. All because they are non-native too. You have to wonder where this non-native crusade hits next?