Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 10 February 2014
We are posting a video (posted by Linda Edwards) and a letter that we are asking everyone to send to Facebook or other social media so that people can understand how and why the Mute Swans are being killed. The Regal Swan
The killing of Mute Swans across the U.S. is one of the most despicable hoaxes ever perpetuated on the American taxpayer. This killing of an ENTIRE SPECIES is based upon monetary gain and complete disregard for sound environmental management practices. The killing or proposal to kill Mute Swans is taking place in New York, Michigan, Maryland and other states. It is endorsed by the U.S. Wildlife Services, Audubon Society and other entities, which purportedly protect wildlife.
Mute Swans are currently being killed because there is no Trophy Waterfowl for hunters. The excuses for killing Mute Swans are they eat enormous amounts of vegetation and displace other waterfowl such as the Trumpeter Swans, the largest waterfowl species. Hunters will pay for this future “Trophy Waterfowl” thereby, offsetting shrinking wildlife budgets.
The International Swan Symposium was held in Maryland last week. Swan specialists from around the world presented papers and discussed the status of swan species. Many expressed concern about the killing of Mute Swans based upon non-scientific research. Even more disconcerting was that in the 70’s, the U.S. government asked scientists, worldwide, to name a species as the International Symbol of World Peace. The Mute Swan was chosen.
According to Barb Avers, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, DNR, used canned information to educate politicians, the media and the general public in order to buy into the killing of Mute Swans. The four rationales were non-native, invasive, detriment to the environment and aggressive which Michigan, New York, Maryland, other DNR’s and the Audubon Society consistently parrot. New York states there is a possibility that Mute Swans are a threat to aircraft, even though the FAA’s Wildlife Strikes to Civilian Aircraft 1990-2012 does not list Mute Swans as ever striking an aircraft or posing a threat.
After convincing the public, the media and politicians using this misinformation, Michigan’s DNR decided on a new plan in 2007. They want to kill more Mute Swans with or without the input from these same politicians, media and public that they had “buy into the initial plan”. Even though the PRESENT MUTE SWAN POPULATION IN MICHIGAN IS STABLE, they want to kill more. The numbers already killed: 26,000 birds. 2006 http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/life/story.html?id=2a17d4ed-e412-4510-ab5e-cb74063485b0
The definition of native vs reintroduction seems to be the problem. At the Swan Symposium, Michigan DNR officials, Avers and Luukkonen stated, “Trumpeter Swan eggs were taken from Alaska, incubated at the Milwaukee Zoo and the swans reintroduced to Michigan in the 90’s.” The Trumpeters were also introduced to Ohio in the 90’s. Most all Trumpeter Swans breed in Alaska and winter in British Columbia.
Therefore, the Trumpeter reintroductions were after the cut-off point of reintroduction designated by U.S. Wildlife Services, which stated that if a species was not here before the 1800’s without being reintroduced, the species could not be considered native. This was the basis to remove the Mute Swan from protective status. So in effect, the U.S. Wildlife Services changed the rules to specifically mark the Mute Swans for eradication.
Avers stated that the cost of the killing of the Mute Swans in Michigan was approximately $100,000-125,000 dollars by U.S. Wildlife Services, $25,000 Michigan DNR ( does not include the number of staff utilized or salaries) and did not address the amount of money spent to reintroduce the Trumpeter Swans (Alaska travel, harvest, incubate eggs, etc.) Avers stated the program (killing and reintroduction) will run out of money in the next few years. So, why is this killing and eradication effort being conducted, if this program cannot be sustained?
FACT: Mute Swans are NO more aggressive than any other wildlife species in protecting their nests or young. (Perrins, 2014, Nilsson, 2014, Coleman, 2014, Nolet, 2014). Whooper Swans will displace Mute Swans in territories that compete for molting, nesting and breeding. (Morkunas, 2014) Trumpeter Swans will chase and kill Mute Swans and other waterfowl. (Bolin, et al, 2014, Handrigan, 2014)
FACT: Mute Swans are not invasive and do not destroy the environment any more than any other waterfowl species such as ducks and geese (Perrins, 2014, Nolet, 2014, Coleman, 2014). Mute Swans weigh approx. 30 lbs and eat approx. 8 lbs of aquatic vegetation, Trumpeter Swans weigh 40 lbs and their cygnets eat approx. 20 lbs of aquatic vegetation.
In Sweden, Mute Swans are SENTINEL birds indicating that there is something wrong with the environment. There are 10,000 Mute Swans in an area smaller than what is being proposed to kill the swans in NY with NO negative ecological impact. If the population drops below 10,000, wildlife biologists are mandated to research why the drop occurred (Nilsson, 2014). Mute Swans are a Sentinel species and were the first waterfowl to alert us to a bacteria that was attacking their feathers and is now present (10 years later) in other waterfowl. (Bolin, et. al, 2014).
FACT: Hindman (Maryland DNR) was asked by a Symposium participant if the killing of the Mute Swans in Maryland had any positive impact on the Chesapeake Bay’s health. His response was: “ONLY ANECDOTAL information, no research, but the nitrogen levels were still high in the Bay.” Hindman stated: “The Maryland DNR reduced 60% hatchings, removed swans using lethal methods, 2 nesting pairs left at this time. Since 2011-2013 1,683 nests destroyed, 9,403 eggs destroyed.” Yet, there are still high levels of nitrogen in Chesapeake Bay. These nitrogen levels were the initial excuse used for killing Mute Swans.
Hindman was asked if the Maryland DNR ever conducted a NEPA study that the Federal Court requested before the killings. Hindman’s answer “NO. The Federal Court ruling affected the U.S. Wildlife Services not Maryland DNR.” Was there ever an environmental study conducted before or after the killing of the swans? Hindman’s answer was NO!
Mute Swans were massacred, the nitrogen levels are still high, and taxpayers will spend more money to research and clean-up the actual cause that was erroneously attributed to Mute Swans.
Hindman presented another paper regarding the public’s knowledge about the killings. “We surveyed 625 people.” Did more of the general public ever know Hindman was asked? Hindman’s response: “NO, We did not do any widespread information, kept it out of the media and away from the general public, got the endorsement of Governor Ehrlich. We did it under the radar, most people did not know how or what we were doing until it was over, we went in, did what we had to do and got out. Never announced and never appeared on 6:00 news.”
This is how the massacre vs management plan of Mute Swans began. It is continuing today while being subsidized by the uninformed American taxpayer.
Sheila A. Bolin, M.S.
The Regal Swan® Foundation, Inc.
Please share with your friends, Facebook and other media outlets, contact your state and federal congressmen, senator or other representative, sign the petition on change.org http://tinyurl.com/pthktb9 and email the DEC at firstname.lastname@example.org to express that they stop their plans to kill all the Mute Swans in New York State.
Sheila Bolin is the CEO and co/founder of The Regal Swan® Foundation, Inc., based in Orlando, Florida. Bolin has been named one of the top 39 conservationists in the world by the prestigious Indianapolis Prize for her work with the world’s species of swans. Bolin spoke at the International Swan Symposium held in Easton, Maryland, February 3-6. This Symposium hosted some of the world’s leading swan experts.
In 2010, Bolin was nominated as “Scientist of The Month,” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, based in Gland, Switzerland, for her swan research work. Bolin also serves as a member of the Swan Specialists Group.
For more information, please see The Regal Swan® Foundation’s Facebook page.