Brooklyn’s mute swans finally have a voice in Albany.
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) has announced that he will work to convince the state Department of Environmental Conservation to find an alternative to its plan to shoot or gas all of the state’s 2,200 mute swans.
“There are other ways of dealing with the swan population that are non-lethal,” said Cymbrowitz, who sits on the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee.
He said that he and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D–Suffolk), the committee chairman, will push the agency to make sure that “any and all alternatives are thoroughly explored” before issuing its final verdict on the swans later this year.
The state recently released a draft of its “Mute Swan Management Plan,” which proposed declaring the bird a “prohibited invasive species” that hurts the environment and calls for its extermination by 2025.
Cymbrowitz acknowledges that swans damage the habitat of native ducks and geese, but he argues that they are integral to the environment of his district.
“The elegant and graceful birds are as iconic to Sheepshead Bay as the Emmons Avenue promenade and fishing boats,” he said.
Cymbrowitz is a well-known friend of the swans. Last summer, his office manager Sharon Messer rescued one unfortunate swan she found wondering disoriented near his district office suffering from lead poisoning. That bird is now safe from the state’s swan snipers, as it was spirited away to Stamford, Conn., to live out its days peacefully at a bird sanctuary.
Cymbrowitz hopes to assure those swans that remain in the state are just as free from persecution.
“As a society, we need to co-exist with all of our neighbors. The state’s immediate reaction to a troublesome species shouldn’t be to murder it,” he said.
The assemblyman is not alone in his quest to save the mute swan from state-sanctioned annihilation.
GooseWatch NYC — a group spawned by the infamous Prospect Park goose massacre — has started a petition on Change.org entitled “Stop New York State’s Swan Killing Plan,” which has gotten nearly 23,000 signatures so far.
The state is taking comments on the plan through Feb. 21. Mail to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or e-mail fwwildlf@g
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