Following a public outcry over its proposal to kill or remove every single mute swan in the state, the Department of Environmental Conservation on Monday released a new plan to manage the 2,000 or so non-native birds, which it says are a nuisance that harm native flora and fauna.
But while the DEC says the revised proposal, which is subject to public comment before adoption, is an improvement that focuses on “minimizing swan impacts, rather than eliminating all free-flying swans,” animal activists aren’t buying it.
“Their new plan is the old insidious plan, with some new, distracting language thrown in,” Fresh Meadows resident Edita Birnkrant, campaigns director for Friends of Animals, said in a prepared statement. “Gov. Cuomo was apparently deceived by the DEC. He vetoed a bill that would have prevented the DEC’s extinction plan, promising the public that the agency’s revised plan would include parts of the legislation he vetoed that would protect swans from lethal management methods meant to completely wipe them out. Clearly Gov. Cuomo was fooled by bureaucrats who think the only good swan is a dead one.”
The vetoed bill Birnkrant referred to was one authored by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) that would have put any DEC swan plan on hold. Cuomo nixed it because, he said, it was unnecessary given the DEC’s plan to issue a revised proposal.
Avella reintroduced the bill earlier this year, and on Wednesday he said the DEC’s new plan marks an improvement but may not be enough, and must be reviewed further.
The new version would take a more regional approach rather than implement the same policy statewide, the DEC says, and give “full consideration” to nonlethal techniques for reducing the swan population, such as oiling eggs to prevent them from hatching. But the DEC “remains committed” to minimizing the impacts the large white birds, brought to North America in the late 1800s, have on other species.
The new swan plan is available online at dec.ny.gov/animals/7076.html.