Exterminate All Swans by 2025

Female Pen (left) Male Cob Mute Swan ©Kim Smith 2012Female (left) and Male Mute Swans at Niles Pond

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s war on swans includes gassing, shooting, and oiling eggs on nests to prevent them from hatching. Their stated goal is to eliminate all 2,200 Mute Swans in the state of New York by the year 2025.

Mute Swan Manky Mallard Nile Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2012Mute Swan and Manky Mallard

Reasons cited are that the swans aggressively defend their young, they attack other waterfowl, and destroy habitat.

Audubon New York and the NYSDEC plan to put forth their agenda to the New York citizenry with their education campaign.

Mute swans were introduced in the previous century to decorate parks and estates. Today, exotic species receive a great deal of attention and generate much concern. Oftentimes information around exotics is too simplistic. Some invasions are life-threatening, but they do not often set off an extinction. They can even spur the evolution of new diversity and strengthen an existing species.

I’ve read contrary opinions, and observed the opposite, to the reasons given for the swan’s extermination. There are a number of issues to consider. Where do our readers stand on this developing story? What have been your observations and experiences when encountering a swan?

Read the complete article here.

Mute Swan Niles Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Mute Swan ~ Cygnus olor

28 thoughts on “Exterminate All Swans by 2025

  1. They are utterly gorgeous and graceful. That is just horrifying and incredibly disturbing that this is being planned. They will have a fight on their hands from animal lovers.
    What a sad commentary on humans.


  2. This is the state that was shooting snowy owls at the airport until they were told that at Logan the owls were trapped and relocated. What a good idea!

    As to the swans, I don’t have any knowledge about the problems with them but exterminating them seems a bit extreme.


    1. Based upon the NYTimes article, it seems as though the swans are a nuisance in mainly just two areas, Long Island and in Rochester, around the Lake Ontario area. Why not relocate the swans to outside areas interested in hosting these beautiful creatures?

      I would love to hear from anyone who lives on a local pond/marsh who has observed the swans over a period of time. Have you noticed any significant changes to your pond/salt marsh?

      The greatest threat to wetlands is phragmites (Phragmites australis) not swans. I would think that all resources would be devoted to controlling phragmites, which destroys native habitat. Without native habitat, there won’t be any shore birds.


  3. It speaks to the worst in human nature — as well as to the detriment of nature. Such an extreme is so unnecessary. These beautiful birds do not need to be exterminated.
    Is that the best idea, which supposedly intelligent human beings, can come up with? Really?!
    I am appalled.


    1. Agreed Judy, appalling.

      Also, not very rational or effective because swans move around from body of water to body of water. I would think they’d have a fight from other states if say for example NYorkers killed some New Jersey swans that just happened to fly over to NY to feed for the day.


  4. Please City of Gloucester reseach and do not allow this to happen!!! The swans and Niles Pond are God given AND one of the most beautiful NATURAL Habitats in your state so PROTECT IT!!!
    I grew up on Eastern Point and my most treasured memories are at that pond. Do you have a conservation/preservation society for it?
    I live at and on Mirror Lake,NH. We have no beautiful swans as part of our natural habitat but i would bring them here before killing them.. . . . . . . joanne pagnotta billings


    1. As witnessed by the Snowy Owl relocation plan at Logan, I don’t think people in Massachusetts (and especially Gloucester) would allow such a plan, no matter how much money is spent to mis-educate people.

      From an observer’s point of view I will say this, even thought it is contrary to what is often claimed:

      Swans are deep divers and will pull up vegetation from the bottom of the pond, which feeds ALL the native smaller dabbling ducks feeding alongside the swans.

      Swans feed peaceably with other waterfowl. Occasionally, the swans will ruffle their feathers at a mallard that acts a little too pesky. The mallard will swim away for second and quickly return for the “good stuff” the swan has brought to the surface.

      This symbiotic feeding seems especially beneficial to the native waterfowl during the winter months, when ponds are frozen and there may often only be a small little open patch of water for the all the ducks to feed from.

      More often than at ponds, I see swans feeding at seaweed along the shore’s edge and in shallow ocean water .

      Swans act aggressively towards people when their nests or young are perceived as being threatened, which seems perfectly logical and natural to me. My experience is that they have given me fair warning when I have inadvertently come upon a nesting site.


    1. There may be bigger problems…… yes. But even small ones can’t be overlooked, especially when the extermination of wildlife is involved. Birds who are harmless?! Why exterminate them?. Enjoy their beauty & leave them alone.


  5. Love the color’s here and the contrast of the birds with blue back drop post card material for sure thank it is all about balance for sure 🙂


  6. Absolutely Not, i believe they were here first. Just had a beautiful Black Swan with a bright red beek swimming around outside my house an omen for Valentines day .


  7. June 2, 2014

    In Rockport, MA across from Pebble Beach I enjoyed a male and female mute swan along with their 4 pens. Two days later, I returned to take more photographs and they were gone. I have asked the regular walkers in that area if they have seen them and to my dismay, they disappeared. At the same time, the ducks has 5 babies and now there are only 4. I also noticed many round indentures in the sandy water near the shore and wonder if an animal frolicked about consuming some ducks. I miss the swans terribly. I also drove around the waters where they are found throughout the summer, but to no avail.

    Then after reading several articles, including this one, I learned what is occurring more frequently is that of hunting and removal by state and federal wildlife officials. State and Federal wildlife officials are removing Mute Swans and killing them so that they can open new habitats to introduce the larger Trumpeter Swan species which will in the next few years be used as a Trophy Waterfowl for hunting purposes. Wildlife budgets are experiencing huge deficits and now wildlife officials are trying to enhance these budgets by enticing hunters through Trophy Waterfowl which will greatly increase hunting and the cost of hunting permits.

    We have been fighting with other entities to stop this killing and have successfully worked with legislators in New York to introduce legislation to stop the killing of Mute Swans in New York until wildlife officials can present true research instead of the false basis for killing the swans that have been perpetuated upon the taxpayer. Yes, the taxpayer is funding this killing and reintroduction of the Trumpeter Swans so that a few of the population can enjoy them by killing them.

    I would like to know who in God’s name gave these people permission to plan the killings and replacements? The government does not have an all-rights to nature and without votes from the public, there should be great protests to such an elimination. I would be the first one with a sign if I find the government removed our beloved swans.


  8. Hi Denise,

    I am saddened by the disappearance of the swans too and do not have an explanation. Like you I have asked, and have also gone at different times of the day to try to continue filming them. Shortly after photos were posted on GMG, the swans disappeared. Neighbors in the area told me there were large crowds looking for the swans and the swans did not like that. Perhaps the crowds pushed them very deeply into the reeds?

    Another possibility is that perhaps the coyotes ate them. There were many coyote sightings in that area this winter and spring. Or possibly another predator. It just seems odd that the entire family seems to have disappeared overnight.

    Trumpeter Swans were never native to this region, as they were in New York, so I can’t imagine why anyone would try to introduce them to this region. Except for the reason you cited above, however would hunting be allowed in a neighborhood.

    If any of our readers knows what has happened to the swans at Henry’s Pond, please write in. Thank you so much.


  9. I spoke with someone very familiar with local fresh water ponds and he believes a snapper turtle took down a Canadian goose. I’m not sure if this is a plausible theory but those turtles can get pretty big.This winter there was one swan in Rockport Harbor during the colder/stormier days. Most likely in refuge from the harsher conditions at Henry’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The snappers do grow quite large at Niles; I’ve seen one that was about 20 inches long and about 10 inches high. They eat cygnets, too.

      The swan at Rockport harbor is Cape Ann’s Mr. Swan, also known as Pops, Poppa, and Buddy. When the fresh water ponds freeze over, Mr. Swan heads over to Rockport and Gloucester Harbors.


      1. Cool, thanks. btw, where in Gloucester Harbor does he hang out? Also, a swam had many offspring the summer before last off Front Beach in Rockport. I could have missed this prior comments to your post but do you know what happened to them?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. He hangs out at Rocky Neck, where he is fed by several families. I have filmed him all around Gloucester Harbor at many locations.

    Mr. and Mrs. Swan’s cygnets were killed that year, we think, by snapping turtles. The swans with cygnets move around from Henry’s Pond to Rockport Harbor to Front Beach and to Niles Pond. Last summer, Mrs. Swan was killed by a coyote.


  11. Thanks for this information Kim. It’s interesting to learn the fly patterns of these local birds. Very sad about Mrs. Swan and the cygnets. It makes you wonder where the best protected place for the swans to bounce back would be. With the coyote population still on the rise I don’t think it’s getting any easier.


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