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Letter: What Would Rockefeller Say About Swans?

When former Governor Nelson Rockefeller created the Department of Environmental Conservation on the first Earth Day in April 27, l970 it was designed to create a secure energy supply without creating undo damage to the environment. I am sure he never would have imagined that this agency would go rogue and aim to eradicate an entire species of a bird population, namely the mute swans.

The agency has declared war on these majestic and peaceful birds, which up until now were federally protected, based on a report with rather flawed data. By their own admission these “experts” had difficultly conducting their studies and much of their data was extrapolated from other states and research projects dating back to the l997. I have read the report which you can upload on their web site and see for yourself.

These non-native birds brought over from Europe have coexisted peacefully with humans for decades with no ill consequence. As an emergency room physician who practiced for over 20 years I can testify that I have treated many bites including, dog, cat, skunk, raccoon, fox, snake, and human bites, but never was anyone a patient in the er because of a swan attack. Will they protect their young and become aggressive when they feel their offspring is in danger, yes, but so do other species as well.

The majority of the 2,800 swans according to the report are based on Long Island, approximately 1,900. Most of them can be found swimming peacefully in ponds and canals. The report claims that their feces, which carries e. coli is deposited in the water, not on land such as Canadian geese. The water they swim in is not our drinking water, they have not proven it has harmed other species and even more bizarre, all feces, humans included, contain e. coli.

The report is flawed on so many levels and data is not supported. Also what the report fails to take into account is that little storm last year known as “Sandy,” which disrupted the entire coast of Long Island, destroying many wetlands. This declaration of species eradication by an overzealous agency needs to be stopped and I urge Long Islanders to contact their legislators to put an end to this. This agency of 3,000 people needs to be culled, beginning with its commissioner who would allow such a waste of our tax dollars. It is important that we become good stewards of this earth and learn to value all species, not declare one species more valuable than another. It’s time we learn from our mistakes and not repeat them.

Dr. Cynthia Paulis