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Image via Shutterstock/Bmajusko95
Image via Shutterstock/Bmajusko95

Mute swans in Sheepshead Bay and beyond may be getting a reprieve, though those in other parts of New York may not.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a “swan management” draft plan – its first since Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Brooklyn Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz’ swan-saving legislation into law in late 2016, which declared a two-year moratorium on swan executions pending further study.

“It’s clear from the new region-specific recommendations that DEC has been listening to the concerns of thousands of advocates in my district and across the state who don’t want mute swans to disappear from our communities,” said Cymbrowitz, whose bill also mandated that the DEC demonstrate the actual damage to the environment or other species caused by the mute swans. “Still, after reading the plan, there are questions remaining about what constitutes humane swan management and how aggressive the state really needs to be in controlling these birds.”

According to the draft plan, in Brooklyn, Long Island and other areas where the mute swan population is stable, the agency will focus on population control methods like coating the eggs in oil. However, upstate, DEC will be “more aggressive” in managing the swans.

However, rather than eliminating the entire population, the plan calls for the removal of about 100 birds statewide each year through both legal and non-lethal means. Furthermore, the plan gives property owners, agencies and municipalities latitude in alleviating “site-specific swan impacts,” which could involve shooting the birds, according to Cymbrowitz’ office.

Cymbrowitz urges anyone wishing to comment on the DEC’s draft plan to write the Bureau of Wildlife – Mute Swan Plan at 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-4754, or e-mail wildlife@dec.ny.gov with the subject line “Mute Swan Plan.” Responses are due December 6.

“Many people in southern Brooklyn and across the state find the swans beautiful and a welcome addition to our communities,” Cymbrowitz said. “The thought of the state coming in and shooting or gassing these birds is not acceptable to anyone.”

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