The Voice of the Mute Swan

Excerpts from the “Management of Mute Swans”
By Sheila Bolin

Sheila Bolin and her dear friend

Sheila Bolin is the CEO/President and co-founder of The Regal Swan® Foundation, Inc., based in Orlando, Florida.  In 2014, Bolin was 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 was also nominated for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize along with some of the world’s other leading conservationists, including Jane Goodall and members of Diane Fosse’s organization, to name a few.

For space considerations we had to reduce her article, but we urge you to contact her at: The Regal Swan® Foundation, Inc. PMB 137
7862 West Irlo Bronson Highway
Kissimmee, FL 34747
(407) 931-6838

The eradication of Mute Swans across large parts of the country in the name of “wildlife management” is nothing less than a hoax perpetrated on the general public to accommodate a small segment of the population. This eradication of an entire species is done with disregard for sound environmental management practices.  This proposed program is taking place in New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and other states, as well as Canada.

The Atlantic Flyway, a major environmentally significant area for wildlife, is the target of this folly. The plan is endorsed by the U.S. Wildlife Services, the National Audubon Society and other entities, which purportedly protect wildlife.

This program is currently implemented in these areas because there is no Trophy Waterfowl for hunters. The taxpayer-funded wildlife agencies of these states (called “DNR” “DEC” “DEP” or various other names”) are attempting to introduce the larger Trumpeter Swans to be used for hunting along the flyways, most importantly, the Atlantic Flyway.  The Atlantic Flyway Council is composed of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and various other states that have been actively lobbied by the Trumpeter Swan Society, Ducks Unlimited, National Audubon Society, and the U.S. Wildlife Service to kill the Mute Swans so that the Trumpeter Swans can be reintroduced.  The plan is to attain a viable population of Trumpeter Swans so that hunting permits can be sold.

Hunters ready to pay for this future “Trophy Waterfowl” will be mitigating shrinking wildlife budgets.

The International Swan Symposium was held in Maryland in February, 2014. Swan specialists from around the world presented papers and discussed the status of swan species. Many expressed concern about the killing of Mute Swans clearly not based on scientific research. Paradoxically,  in the 1960s, when the U.S. government asked scientists, worldwide, to name a species as the International Symbol of World Peace, the Mute Swan was chosen.

The alleged justifications put forth for killing Mute Swans are:

Mute Swans are aggressive.

“Mute Swans are NO more aggressive than any other wildlife species in protecting their nests or young. If you get too close to their nests or young, they will become aggressive.” (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).

Mute Swans are considered invasive because they eat enormous amounts of vegetation and displace other waterfowl such as the Trumpeter Swans, the largest waterfowl species.
Yet, swan specialists at the Symposium stated: “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, Bolin, et al, 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 according to Larry Gillette, The Trumpeter Swan Society.

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)

New York DEC states “there is a possibility that Mute Swans are a threat to aircraft.

The FAA’s Wildlife Strikes to Civilian Aircraft 1990-2012 does not list Mute Swans as ever striking an aircraft or posing a threat.

Mute Swans are non-native to North America Native Species.

Fossils of a homologue of the Mute Swan, dating 25 million years ago, have been found in several North American sites. The definition of native vs reintroduction seems to be the problem, but this definition gets further muddied when the Trumpeter Swan is mentioned.

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 1800s 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.

Mute Swans are exploding in population and displacing other waterfowl which are the reasons stated by wildlife officials from various states wanting to control their populations.

Shirkey, et. al presented a paper questioning the methodology. He stated that It was very difficult to count swans from the air, there was no discrimination between Tundras or Mutes. The difficulty is choppy water and glare.

In addition to Sheila Bolin C.A.S.H. would also like to thank Karen Stamper, Kathryn Burton, Sue Miller and her brother Tom Pacheco, NYS Senator Tony Avella and  NYS Assembly member Steven Cymbrowitz for all they are doing to be the voice of the mute swan.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561