The water gently lulls as the seagulls echo each other and the swans create the soft ripples that circle outwards towards idyllic sidewalks filled with baby strollers and joggers wearing winter gloves.
The picturesque Sheepshead Bay waterfront might lend itself to such poetry now, but if the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation gets its way, we might have to omit those iconic swans.
The DEC issued a report in December 2013 called the “Management Plan for Mute Swans in New York State,” in which the particular species of swan – mute swan, hailing from Europe – are considered “invasive species.” Although they have been in North America since the late-1800s, and failed to garner much complaint from pretty much anybody, the agency has instituted a timeline for their removal.
In the more than a century that they’ve been here, the mute swan population has flourished in Sheepshead Bay, and even become a much commented upon icon of its waterfront. Statewide, there are about 2,200 mute swans, according to the report.
The DEC claims that the mute swans have caused problems “including aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation.”
But some New Yorkers, like these involved with a Change.org petition feel this is “wrong—it is cruel, and not how New Yorkers want our taxpayer dollars spent.”
The Change.org petition notes that the DEC’s “outline for management seeks complete and total decimation of the species by the year 2025.”
You can sign the petition here.
— Vanessa Ogle