After much public outcry from residents as well as local and state officials, the State Department of Environmental Conservation is backing off a plan to kill or capture all mute swans by 2025, saying it will revise its management plan and reissue it for another public comment period.
“DEC will consider non-lethal means to achieve the management plan’s intended goals,” announced a press release issued by the DEC on Friday afternoon.
Released in January, the original management plan called for the eradication of all free-ranging mute swans by 2025. Forms of eradication ranged from capture to euthanizing to shooting the non-native species, which the DEC labeled as “invasive” and “aggressive.”
Over the course of the plan’s five-week public comment period, which ended on February 21, the agency received “more than 1,500 comments on the plan from individuals and organizations, as well as more than 16,000 form letters and 30,000 signatures on various petitions,” according to the release issued.
Within those five weeks, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. co-sponsored legislation with State Senators Tony Avella and Steve Cymbrowitz to place a two-year moratorium on the DEC’s plan, while State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle issued a statement last week announcing planned legislation nixing the DEC’s plans.
“I’m glad they’re going back to the drawing board, that’s a step in the right direction,” said Mr. Thiele. “It’s still unclear to me what a revised plan would look like and if that would be acceptable, so I’m still a little skeptical. But I’m going to keep a close eye on it.”
Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for the DEC, said she could not comment on whether specific letters could influence the DEC’s plan.
“I think the level of public interest and public controversy most definitely impacted the DEC,” Mr. Thiele said. “That’s how democracy works, and I’m glad that it did.”
The DEC plans to release a second draft in the spring, according to its press release, and hold a 30-day comment period. It also plans to release a summary of comments in addition to a “response to the many questions, concerns and ideas.”