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DEC: Mute swans focus of hearing tonight in Hauppauge

A mute swan swims in Main Pond at

A mute swan swims in Main Pond at Connetquot River State Park Preserve, Dec. 5, 2008. Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

A new draft management plan for mute swans will be the focus of a Thursday evening public hearing in Hauppauge, one year after a state law blocked plans to eradicate them.

This is the Department of Environmental Conservation’s third attempt to deal with flocks of the large swans, imported from Europe in the 1800s, the agency said.

The new effort aims to control the number of mute swans, instead of abolishing them, the DEC said in a notice.

The agency had wanted to eradicate the swans, deeming them an invasive species that outcompetes native waterfowl and pollutes bodies of water.

However, environmentalists and bird and wildlife lovers assailed its plans as a cruel response to a non-problem that was not supported by scientific data.

“Wildlife management can present challenges in trying to balance conflicting interests, such as when a beautiful bird can have harmful impacts,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a notice announcing the new public hearings.

New York has about 2,000 mute swans; almost all live downstate, where their population has “leveled off,” the DEC said.

The population on Long Island usually accounts for about two-thirds of the statewide total.

“Overwhelming public support for allowing these birds to remain caused the DEC to reconsider its plans for swans” that live in the downstate area, the agency said.

It pledged to prevent any upstate flocks from rapidly expanding, as they have in Maryland and Michigan.

“Mute swans are likely to remain in most areas of Long Island, New York City, and the lower Hudson Valley where they have been seen for many years, but DEC will encourage non-lethal population controls to protect local wildlife and habitats and will authorize control measures to ensure that mute swans do not interfere with human interests,” the agency said.

In addition to educating the public, the DEC said it will encourage property owners to care for them responsibly.

And it said it will propose “strategies for managing feral mute swan populations.”

The DEC said it and other agencies killed more than 500 adult swans or baby swans known as cygnets from 2005 to 2012.

During that same period, it said more than 400 nests and 2,500 eggs were eliminated.

“Eggs were typically punctured, oiled, or destroyed, and most take of adults was by shooting or hand capture and euthanasia,” it added.

This is the link for the DEC’s new draft plan, dec.ny.gov/animals/7076.html

Thursday’s hearing — the last of three — will be held at the Suffolk County Water Authority, at 260 Motor Pkwy., at 6 p.m., the DEC said.

The deadline for public comments is Dec. 13, the DEC said.

The email address is: Wildlife@dec.ny.gov (subject line — “Mute Swan Plan”).

Or comments can be mailed to: Bureau of Wildlife — Mute Swan Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754

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