Please Help Stop the Slaughter of our Mute Swans in Michigan
For generations Mute swans have been part of the magic that makes Michigan a wonderful place to live and a special place for tourists to visit every summer. Now that way of life is threatened as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other so-called conservation groups want to kill OUR swans. The DNR claims the Mute swan population is out of control and estimates there are approximately 15,500 swans in Michigan – a number that seems exaggerated and is highly disputed by experts. Considering there are over 35,000 inland lakes and ponds in Michigan, even if their estimates are correct, that’s not even a single pair of Mute swans for every four lakes.
Mute swans are a treasured resource
Free-ranging mute swans are not only graceful and beautiful; they also provide a number of unique benefits for the state of Michigan. Mute swans beautify and enhance the environment and they are a humane goose deterrent. As much as we love geese and would never want to see them eliminated, sometimes their concentrations become problematic. Mute swans are beautiful and treasured residents of our lakes, rivers and ponds and often deter geese from concentrating, particularly during nesting season. Moreover, mute swans provide a natural control to the extensive beds of aquatic vegetation that occupy many of our lakes and ponds.
Why does the DNR want to eliminate our Mute Swans?
Since most people cringe at the idea of killing something so beautiful, Michigan DNR has waged a relentless campaign trying to convince us that Mute swans are nasty creatures that must be destroyed. Using words like “non-native,” “feral,” “invasive,” and “aggressive,” the DNR hopes to diminish our love for the Mute swan all the while claiming they are only protecting “native” waterfowl. (This claim is particularly surprising because Michigan DNR actually allows people to kill more than 300,000 “native“ waterfowl and 100,000 geese each year in Michigan.)
Are free-ranging mute swans native or introduced or re-introduced species—and does it matter?
According to the DNR, Mute swans were brought into this country back in the late 1800s. Many scientists believe mute swans may have been on this continent far longer. But even if you accept the DNR’s assertion, that means Mute swans have been here for well over 100 years, certainly long enough to have been accorded residency as valued neighbors.
And when it comes to opposing the introduction of non-native species in Michigan, the DNR often seems to pick its battles based purely on whether a species “displaces” or qualifies as a game animal. A perfect example of this is the ring-necked pheasant that was brought into our country and Michigan from China specifically to be introduced for hunting. Ironically, this non-native game fowl, which has been designated the Official State Bird in South Dakota, has been implicated in the elimination of the once “native”, but now extinct Prairie Chicken from Michigan. Clearly, if the DNR can devote its time and energy to introducing pheasants, it can allow free-ranging Mute swans to live and be enjoyed by the public and provide these beautiful resident with the stewardship and respect they deserve.
Mute swans are still protected under Michigan law, but the DNR seems to have a free reign when it comes to deciding their fate. It is up to us to speak out for our Mute swans.
Recently, there have been a few positive signs for Mute swans. In early July, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Michigan Save our Swans Committee sent a proposal to the Michigan DNR requesting a moratorium on the killing of mute swans and calling for a cooperative humane management program. And numerous legislators have expressed interest in pushing for a resolution asking the Governor to declare a moratorium on the killing of mute swans.