Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 3 January 2015
We do not have a problem with Michigan or other states having Trumpeter Swans. What we protest against is the misrepresentation and hoax perpetuated on the taxpayers, media and politicians regarding the need to wipe out an entire species (Mute Swans) to get to the point of having Trumpeter Swans in areas that they never before existed.
At the 2014 International Swan Symposium, held in Easton, Maryland, statements by current and former state and U.S. Wildlife agency representatives revealed how this hoax was carried out.
Wisconsin state wildlife representatives stated that Trumpeter Swan eggs were harvested from Alaska, incubated at the Milwaukee Zoo and the subsequent raised birds were sent to various areas.
Yosemite DNR representatives stated that the Trumpeters were introduced to Yosemite and supplementally fed by wildlife officials for 25 years. Once the supplemental feeding stopped, the numbers decreased, not because of any Mute Swans in the area, but because of habitat food restrictions. What is appalling is that these same wildlife officials that chose to feed the birds, stopped feeding a captive raised bird after turning it loose into the wild and expected the swans to fend for themselves and increase their flock. Ever tried to release a pet bird, dog or cat into the environment and expect them to live? This is basic zoology, it does not work, but we have state paid officials conducting such tax based atrocities.
Furthermore, the need to remove Mute Swans to make way for Trumpeter habitats has been conducted since the 80ís based upon NO SCIENTIFIC research.
According to Michigan DNR representative, Dave Luukkonen, 26,000 Mute Swans have been killed, the numbers are stable, but they want to kill more.
Michiganís DNR representative Barb Avers also made the following comments at the Swan Symposium:
ďBasically, educated the media and public through canned information so that could limit misinformation, population guides, negative impacts, management policies and goals, etc. Stated the following negative impacts:
Ecological impact- Sub Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)
Displaced native waterfowl and other waterfowl
Aggressiveness toward Humans
Reduce to 0 on state lands
Less than 2,000 by 2030 Ė She stated they would never get to this number under present plan
Policy revision in 2010 and now want to kill more Mute Swans.
Avers spoke about doing things differently than Maryland by engaging public, got public, private property owners, hunters, wildlife biologists, animal activists, etc. to buy into plan. Used canned same consistent message.
ďPoliticians had to be presented framed risks for decision making. They were more interested in other invasive species such as fish, plants, etc., and had to be given frame by frame risk to get them on board: the framed risk: aggression, invasive species, etc.
Reached stability with present plan. Then, revised plan to cull more.Ē
ASKED BY PARTICIPANT: Were they going to go ahead and kill more than was agreed upon if it still was not socially or politically acceptable. The Answer by Ms. Avers was ďProbably.Ē So, even after getting agreement with the above public and private sector, the Michigan DNR revised the plan and will go forward without the acceptance of the individuals that the Michigan DNR had previously asked for permission.
ASKED BY PARTICIPANT: WHAT was the overall cost of controlling Mute Swans and reintroducing species? Michigan DNR rep LUUKKONEN stated he did not know. The participant pressed again and these figures were given by Ms. Avers: US Agriculture paid $100,000-125,000 to control the Mute Swan species. Not counting staff Michigan DNR $25,000. No cost of reintroduction was provided. They also noted that this program was going to run out of funding in the next few years.
So, letís look at the Michigan program. It began in the late 80ís early 90ís. According to these numbers provided by Ms. Avers and Mr. Luukkonen, the Michigan DNR has killed more than 26,000 Mute Swans for more than 7 years.
There are at least 30 states killing Mute Swans and have been doing so since the late 80ís early 90ís. So, letís do the math. If we use 26,000 Mute Swans as our baseline, and 30 states have been killing them for 7 years, this means that more than 780,000 birds have been killed, yes less than a million, but this number does not include the Mute Swans killed in the Ontario area based upon this same non-scientific reasoning.
Letís also look at the costs that Ms. Avers provided. If the Mute Swan killing program has been continuing for more than 7 years (since 2007 was the number that Mr. Luukkonen began his presentation) , we seriously doubt that $125,000 to U.S. Wildlife Services and $25,000 was for the programís totality, probably for one year only. So, letís do more math. $125,000 +$25,000 =$150,000 x 7 (minimum number of years)= $1,050,000. Remember, these numbers did not include staff and salaries. Now, Detroit is in Bankruptcy, other cities are on the borderline and you have Michigan DNR using this atrocious amount of money for a program that Ms. Avers admits in UNSUSTAINABLE! We wonder how politicians, media and retirees who are losing their pensions would view this amount of money being spent on a program that is unsustainable.
Now, letís look at several other points. Remember, Ms. Avers stated that the Michigan DNR was using canned information for the politicians, taxpayers and media:
Mute Swans are aggressive, eat too much Subaquatic Vegetation (SAV), and displace other waterfowl. So, where is Michiganís research to base these upon? According to information provided under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), Michigan DNR never had any research, yet refers to research conducted in Maryland. According to Michigan DNR Avers, if numbers happened in Maryland, IT COULD happen in Michigan (again, no research ever conducted in Michigan, but refers to Marylandís Mute Swan eradication program).
So, now letís look at Marylandís Mute Swan eradication program that Michigan DNR alludes to Marylandís DEC research. At the Swan Symposium, Larry Hindman, Maryland DEC, stated NO RESEARCH was ever conducted prior to the killing of all Mute Swans except 2 mating pair in the Chesapeake Bay, 1683 nests and 9403 eggs destroyed. All of this killing and eradication of the Mute Swans was based upon NO Scientific research yet, stated that the premise of the killing was that Mute Swans were an invasive species, removing other waterfowl and were polluting the Chesapeake Bay with high nitrogen levels. Yet, after all of these swans have been killed, Mr. Hindman admitted that currently, the nitrogen levels are still high in the Chesapeake Bay.
Even more disconcerting, after this entire species has been blamed for high nitrogen levels in the Bay, the actual causes have been attributed to leaking septic tanks and animal waste run-off from animal farms. So, the Maryland taxpayer has paid for the costs of killing the Mute Swans and now will be asked to pay for the actual cost of the clean-up of the Bay which can no longer be attributed to the Mute Swans and will be more costly than the millions already spent on a baseless program. Additionally, Mr. Hindman stated that the Maryland DEC went under the radar, did not notify the public or the media of what they were doing, did not appear on the 6:00 news. Does this not sound familiar to Ms. Avers comment that the Michigan DNR was planning to kill more swans, even though the numbers were stable and not alerts the public or media?
But, this is how this eradication program has been conducted throughout the U.S.
Letís now look at the premise of the Mute Swans being aggressive toward people, eating too much SAV and displacing other waterfowl. At the Symposium, internationally acclaimed wetland biologists, ecologists and swan specialists stated that the Mute Swans were no more aggressive to people or other waterfowl than any other wildlife protecting their young; were no more detrimental to the habitat than any other species. In fact, several swan and wetland specialists stated that the Mute Swans WERE NOT INVASIVE, but rather a Sentinel species that alerts scientists to the presence of high levels of heavy metals and harmful microorganisms.
Trumpeter Swan Society members admitted that the Mute Swans weigh approximately 30 lbs. and eat approximately 8 lbs. of SAV daily. Yet, a Trumpeter Swan weighs approximately 40 lbs. and its cygnets alone eat 20 lbs. of SAV daily. THIS from Trumpeter Swan specialists. It was also noted that Trumpeter Swans will displace Mute Swans, not vice versa and will even kill or displace other waterfowl just by their inherent large size. So, why are Trumpeters being introduced into areas they have never inhabited when these same DNR officials know that the Trumpeters eat more SAV and displace waterfowl because of their size and why are they using taxpayer monies to kill this smaller non-aggressive, non-invasive species?
The swans are not being shot because state wildlife officials do not want photos of the swans being shot or any attention brought to the eradication program because they know there would be a public outrage. Wildlife officials sneak into nesting areas, decapitate the parent swans in front of the cygnets (baby swans) and stomp the cygnets to death. In Indiana, there were wildlife officials who were seen dragging Mute Swans behind their boats, and beating the swans to death with baseball bats and oars. Much quieter than using guns and possibly being seen by more of the general public.
Finally, letís address the point that Mute Swans are not native to the U.S. FACT; evidence was presented to a U.S. Federal Appeals Court in Maryland that showed the Mute Swans were native based upon fossils found in various states of a Mute Swan homologue, not a Trumpeter or Tundra, but Mute Swan homologue. Based upon this finding, the U.S. Federal Appeals Court ruled that the Mute Swans were native and that the ďjunk scienceĒ provided by the U.S. Wildlife Services could not be used to kill the Mute Swans in Maryland. The federal wildlife officials were instructed by the court to present a NEPA study or other environmental study prior to any killings. Yet, Mr. Hindman admitted that the court ruling pertained to the Federal wildlife officials not the state Maryland DEC so no such research was ever conducted prior to the Mute Swan killings in Maryland.
What is most ironic about all of this is that Ms. Avers stated that the reason for killing the Mute Swans is that they want a native swan. Then, how is it that the Mute Swans are being killed based upon ďjunk scienceĒ of being invasive and non-native, yet taxpayer monies are being used to import, raise on poultry farms and introduce into the native environment, Asian Pheasants. Thatís right, the Michigan DNR and other states have imported in the 90ís a non-native Pheasant, raised them on poultry farms and released them into the wild for hunting purposes. Even after the U.S. Wildlife Services and these same state entities knew that the Pheasants are considered parasites in that they lay their eggs in other bird nests such as ducks and the native endangered Prairie Chicken. Some research shows that the Pheasants are treated in the captive poultry setting with anti-parasitic drugs, released into the native habitat and can actually spread their parasites into the native setting. The introduced pheasants can also pick-up wild zoonotic diseases. Yet, hunters are allowed to hunt and eat these introduced birds. All in the name of hunting and all at taxpayer expense. If you want a native swan, then you should have a native Pheasant. The Mute Swans have been shown to be native, the Asian Pheasants non-native. So, you can't have it both ways.
We may not be hunters, but we are taxpayers. Having to fund a Non-sustainable eradication program of an entire species based upon hunting to increase state and federal wildlife budgets without any consideration of the scientific consequences of eradicating an entire species is unfathomable.
But, one thing is for sure. The truth will always prevail. The Truth may not come out in a timely manner, but eventually, misrepresentations, fake studies or problems drummed up to increase revenue through hunting or other ulterior motives will be exposed. That time is now as we have heard (2014) from state and federal wildlife officials themselves admitting how the Killing of Mute Swan hoax was perpetuated and still being conducted without the knowledge of the U.S. taxpayer. It is now time for us to act to stop this senseless killing of an entire Sentinel species and waste of taxpayer money. The Regal Swan