Assemblyman speaks up for mute swans

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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 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 with “Swan plan” in the subject line.

Posted 12:00 am, February 6, 2014
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Reader feedback

Donna-Lee Hume from Amity Harbor, NY says:
I have done alot of wildlife rescues for the past 30 years, the human race needs to deal and realize that all the animal species are out there for a reason, there is more harm with illegal dumpers with toxins into the water and now Costco has to pay a hefty fine for selling illegal in the state of NY some sort of fertilizer because everyone wants to have the greenest grass and keep up with the neighbors they do not pay attention and then take into consideration Super Storm Sandy look at all the oil tanks and devastation with all the other homes furnishings thrown into the bays and waterways if these swans fought to stay alive and made it thru I say let them be there is enough disasters in this world let nature take it course they get taken out by predators also . It's is called balancing .
Feb. 7, 2014, 6:40 pm

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