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Letter: NY must address invasive mute swans

A mute swan swims with its offspring in

A mute swan swims with its offspring in Cold Spring Harbor on May 2, 1999. Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

A century ago, mute swans were brought from Europe to decorate Long Island Gold Coast estates. Now, they are 2,000 strong and fiercely territorial.

Swans attack native waterfowl, driving them from their nesting habitats. Swans uproot underwater vegetation, trample shoreline plants and wreck coastal ecological reconstruction programs. Swans even kill other animals, including dogs.

Scientific consensus solidly backs the 2015 Atlantic Flyway Mute Swan Management Plan. It is a blueprint by environmental conservation agencies from seven adjacent Eastern states and Canada to reduce invasive swan populations. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo just signed a bill prohibiting the state Department of Environmental Conservation from euthanizing swans, throwing a monkey wrench into New York’s role [“Law gives mute swans reprieve,” News, Nov. 30].

Swans in salt marshes are the culprits for environmental damage. They are not transportable to parks because territorial swans are already there. Nonlethal population controls, such as rendering swans flightless and sterile, are inhumane and have not served well in the past. The prohibition expires in two years. During this time, the DEC needs to utilize its swan funds for building public support for the flyways plan so this environmental multistate plan is not again thwarted.

Frank Reiser, Garden City

Editor’s note: The writer is a professor of biology at Nassau Community College.