Killing Mute Swans? Shameful.

All over the United States, mute swans have been the victims of unnecessary killing just for doing what is natural to them – living, and eating vegetation to survive...

The beautiful mute swan, known for its graceful white body and distinctive orange/red bill, is found up and down the eastern sea board and in areas as far west as Montana and Utah. However, it is still disputed whether mute swans are native to the United States or if they were introduced in the 1800s.  Either way, free-ranging swans are now a naturalized, not to mention beautiful, part of our environment. There is no evidence that swans are responsible for meaningful environmental alteration. In fact, it is more likely that they are being used as a scapegoat for our political failure to deal with environmental problems such as water pollution and toxic runoff. We must learn to live with our naturalized wildlife --native and non-native alike--and stop trying to recreate a world that can no longer exist. Brutal and unnecessary killing of mute swans is not a substitute for the humane and enlightened management that these magnificent animals deserve.

Even Slash, famous guitarist from Guns N' Roses, and Nigel Barker, world-renowned photographer, have spoken out against this unnecessary slaughter.



Governor Cuomo vetoed a bill introduced by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) and Senator Tony Avella that would have established a moratorium on the killing of New York State’s 2,200 mute swans by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC was planning to move forward with a plan to eliminate the state’s entire mute swan population by 2025. Below is Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’s Facebook post about the veto:

Governor Cuomo tonight vetoed a bill introduced by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) that would have effectively saved the state’s2,200 mute swans from a state-mandated death sentence.

The legislation (A.8790A) sought to establish a moratorium on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to declare the graceful bird – a favorite with local residents and as iconic to Sheepshead Bay as the fishing boats and the Emmons Avenue promenade -- a “prohibited invasive species”and eliminate the state’s entire population by 2025. Sen. Tony Avella sponsored the bill in the Senate.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz received the news by phone from the Governor’s office this evening. Cuomo was concerned that the bill would overlap with DEC’s revised mute swan management plan, which is currently in the works.

“Obviously I’m very disappointed, and I’m sure that many people in my district and throughout the state will share this sentiment,” he said.

“The Governor’s office told me that DEC would be introducing a revised plan that would incorporate parts of the bill,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. “I would like to find this reassuring, but DEC already promised to consider non-lethal methods for managing the swans and then last June shot two swans to death upstate in full view of the public.”

“If I look at DEC’s revised plan and find it lacking, I’ll be re-introducing the legislation,” he said.

This year, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, a member of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, launched an outcry when DEC announced that it would kill the swans because of the damage they purportedly cause to the environment and other species such as ducks and geese. But experts remain conflicted about whether the birds inflict any damage, making it imperative to examine the issue further.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ battle to save the swans attracted the attention of animal advocacy organizations like GooseWatch NYC and Save Our Swans (and The Humane Society of the United States). He encouraged the groups to remain vigilant. “There’s no swan song yet,” he said.