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Not Ready For A Swan Song

After a report surfaced last week that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking to eliminate the state’s mute swan population by 2025, residents and elected officials joined together in denouncing the plan as foul.

Now, some elected officials have joined in drafting legislation against any such action against swans in Massapequa and beyond.

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senators Tony Avella and Steve Cymbrowitz have teamed up to co-sponsor legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to declare mute swans a “prohibited invasive species” and to kill all of the 2,200 mute swans in the state by 2025.The new legislation would require the DEC to demonstrate the actual damage to the environment or other species that have been caused by the mute swan population of only 2,200 across the state.

Joining the elected officials, the Nassau County SPCA drafted a letter stating that residents should be outraged that taxpaper money will be used to eradicate the swans.

“Regardless of whether this enchanting bird is indigenous to the United States or not, our state’s population of mute swans peaked at more than 2,800 birds in 2002 and is currently estimated at about 2,200 swans statewide,” the letter reads. “Taken together with the agency’s admitted inability to thoroughly quantify species’ productivity, migration and survival rates, the draft plan is short-sighted, excessive and an unnecessary attack on a relatively stable mute swan population.”

Assemblyman Joseph Saladino said he would prefer to see the state opt for a humane solution to any issues related to swans in the state.

“I do not support the killing of swans,” said Saladino. “There are obviously species that pose a risk to health, and every parent whose child has used a sports field understands this. We must pursue humane methods of dealing with the issues of over-abundant species. I’m working with the DEC to pursue a smart and humane approach that embraces common sense.”

Many local residents have grown used to seeing the swans in the Massapequa Preserve. Richard Schary, president of the Friends of the Massapequa Preserve said he struggles to understand the DEC’s plan when swan populations are no where near a problem.

“This sends the wrong message to young people. It says that killing is the only way to solve problems,” he said. “This plan gives bad people an excuse to do bad things to these beautiful creatures. The swans belong on these lakes more than we do.”

The DEC is accepting public comments to its mute swan proposal through Feb. 21 by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by mail at NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.

In his public comment letter to the DEC, Massapequa resident Andrew Wangelin said the department’s claims about the swan populations harmful affects on the environment lacks hard evidence.

“As a former commercial shell fisherman I support the DEC’s mission to thoughtful and effective manage wildlife resources and environments,” he said. “However, I object to the culling of a species that I subjectively believe to be reasonably harmless and majestic.”