Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Would like to keep swans, need help assessing properties with ponds
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 5 August 2015

Hi Gerry:

Thanks for the clarification. We should have also been more concise. The reason that we are informing you about the legalities is that it does not matter what size pond you have, or species, you are going to need a permit. You need to find that out before you purchase a lake home with the idea/purpose of placing any waterfowl on the lake. There are several reasons for this point.

1. Any swan species and even some waterfowl species that you may keep are going to need a permit. Non-native species of swans are the southern hemisphere swans, Australian Black Swans, the Black-Necked and the Coscoroba swans. You may need not only a state but also a federal permit for these swans. The northern hemisphere non-native species are Whooper and Bewicks. You will definitely need a federal and state permit for these species. If you are going to have breeders, you will need breeding permits.

2. If you are looking to bring in any of the southern hemisphere species, you will also need a nighttime/inclement (cold) weather shelter, i.e., barn, garage, shed, etc. You will probably need a local building/construction permit for this shelter and you will need permits for inflow/outflow of water and how you are going to treat the effluent. Even if you have northern hemisphere swans, if they are captive, pinioned (cannot fly) they may also need this same shelter in the event that your area gets 40+mph winds and freezing weather.

3. Small swans, i.e., Black-Necked, Coscoroba or Australian Black Swans will need approximately 1/8 of an acre of water and land protected from predators. All other swans are fairly large and will need approximately 1/4 of an acre of water and land protected from predators. These ponds can be man-made or natural, but will need some type of aerator/de-icer to keep the water circulating and prevent toxins such as botulism from forming in the pond and killing the swans.

4. The surrounding habitat must have ample vegetation for shelter, nesting and food. You will also need to supplementally feed the swans and the feeder must be mounted 3 feet into the water away from the banks so that predators and pests (ants, rats, raccoons) do not access the food.

5. The bank must have a zero entrance, no steep areas, no hard, rocky, gravel or other substrate that can cause injuries to the swans' feet or legs.

6. The lake area should be free from fishing, jet-skiing and other disruptive recreational water activities that could not only disrupt the swans on a daily basis but also could get them seriously injured and even killed.

7. You will need to erect a pen 12 x 24 for two swans, entirely enclosed top to bottom (free from predators digging under and crawling over and into the pen), 1/2 on land and 1/2 in water, with a feeder inside, zero water entrance. Under the bottom rail and up to 4 feet on the outside perimeter of the pen, the pen should be covered in poultry fencing so that no predator can reach into the pen. This pen will be used for a quick capture/holding pen for quarantine or veterinary care purposes.

This pen will also serve as an introduction to your environment, you the caretaker and the feeding system. The swans will need to be placed in this pen for approximately 2 weeks to acclimate to their new habitat or they will walk away from the habitat.

The pen is another issue with state agencies as you will have to have a permit to enclose a portion of the lake. In most states, the state EPA or DNR owns the bottom of the lake and therefore, has governance over the access/enclosure, etc. of the body of water. Finally, if you have a homeowner's association, they may also refuse the construction of a pen in the lake.

As you can see, these are just some of the preliminary points that you must have before keeping swans, but if you do not inquire about possession, construction and other permits first, you may buy a piece of property and never be able to use it for your intended purposes. We hope this helps. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Would like to keep swans, need help assessing properties with ponds -- Gerry -- 3 August 2015
Re: Would like to keep swans, need help assessing properties with ponds -- The Regal Swan -- 3 August 2015
Re: Would like to keep swans, need help assessing properties with ponds -- Gerry -- 5 August 2015
Re: Would like to keep swans, need help assessing properties with ponds -- The Regal Swan -- 5 August 2015