On the same day that state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) passed his state legislative bill establishing a two-year moratorium on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) plan to eradicate all wild mute swans in the state by 2025, two mute swans were shot dead in the middle of the day at Black River Bay in Jefferson County.
Avella said he feels this was a deplorable act on June 18, which prompted him two days later to send a stern letter to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens asking to halt all killings.
“I think it is now quite clear that DEC’s careless plan to eradicate the entire mute swan species entailed too many questions and not enough answers,” Avella said in a statement.
The same version of the senator’s bill passed earlier last month in the Assembly, which Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz spearheaded. The bill will now be delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature, which can take up to several weeks.
The bill also requires the DEC demonstrates that actual damage to the environment or other species have been caused by the mute swan population across the state.
Edita Birnkrant, state campaign director for the nonprofit Friends of Animals, had some stern words of her own to say about what the DEC chooses to do to the swans.
“There are only 2,200 mute swans in the entire state and they have been around for decades. And now the DEC decides to kill them just because they are a non-native species and they consume too much vegetation,” Birnkrant said. “We will not stand for the extinction of this most beloved species of water fowl.”
She said most New Yorkers enjoy the swans and look forward to seeing them in scenic places around the borough like Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Flushing Meadows Park.
Peter Muller, chairman of the League of Humane Voters, said the DEC was following their own protocol despite what the law said.
“The DEC claims that the mute swans are non-native, but the same can be said about people who are non-native and from different parts of the country,” Muller said. “So why pick on the swans? There are many environment organizations and people that are against these killings. I just hope the governor realizes how important this is and he signs the bill.”
By Debbie Cohen