On Monday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation closed its comment section to the Draft Mute Swan Management Plan.
During a recent Cassadaga Village Board meeting, residents passionately stated their desire to save the swans. Cassadaga Lake gets about seven swans, which attract a lot of locals as well as tourists to the lake. The DEC Draft Mute Swan Management Plan, which began in December was accepting comments up until Monday.
Cassadaga Village calls the mute swan its bird and views them as Cassadaga Lake's identity.
OBSERVER Photo by Gene Pauszek
Cassadaga Lake Mute Swans enjoying the icy water.
Comments on the draft mute swan plan were open through Monday. DEC received approximately 1,500 individual comments, approximately 16,000 form-letter e-mails and approximately 25,000 signatures on various petitions.
Various local government officials are being asked to contact Sen. Catherine Young about the mute swans. The belief is if communities can get their local government involved in saving the swans a law can be passed to save them.
Those who want to help stop the plan are encouraged to write Sen. Catherine Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518-455-3563.
"We will carefully review all comments received and prepare a responsive summary on substantive issues raised by the public," NYSDEC Office of Media Relations Spokeswoman Lori Severino said. "DEC is determining the next steps in the process, which could include updates to the plan."
There are some other groups that are involved in this issue and recognize the need for a management plan for mute swans in New York State, including Cornell University.
Meanwhile others are still fighting to save the swans.
A bill introduced by New York State Sen. Tony Avella of Queens would put a two-year hold on the DEC plan to remove the 2,200 wild mute swans in the state by 2025.
Severino addressed the fact some people are not going to be for the plan.
"The most effective way to address those concerns is to work toward a gradual reduction of the wild mute swan population," she said. "Our plan, which would allow people to enjoy these birds through responsible private ownership, is more balanced and comprehensive than many critics have suggested, and we encourage everyone to read the plan, as well as a report we prepared on mute swans in New York, before rejecting it outright."
"The plan includes important strategies for preventing population growth and specific controls to allow mute swans to be taken from the wild and turned over to responsible owners," she continued. "This is an important component of the plan."
DEC believes Mute swans are an invasive species that can be very aggressive and have detrimental effects on wetlands and habitat of native fish and wildlife. DEC conducted a study and found that areas exposed to swan foraging had 70-80 percent less biomass of submerged aquatic vegetation than in areas where swans were excluded for less than one full growing season.
Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maryland have reported similar results. DEC has also noted the disappearance of black tern, an endangered wetland bird in New York, from an area after it was colonized by mute swans in the mid 1990s. A study in Maryland found that mute swans displaced a colony of least terns and black skimmers from an important nesting area in Chesapeake Bay.
Mute swans can significantly damage water quality as their feces contain e coli. Their potential for rapid population growth is a concern. In a study by DEC, fecal coliform counts in coastal waters tended to be higher where the most swans were observed, often exceeding what would be threshold values for certified shellfishing areas. Areas without swans had fecal coliform levels near or below the thresholds for closure.
Bottom line is there are some who believe the swans are bad for the environment due to their aggressive behavior and consumption of plant life around the water.
There are some who strongly believe the swans should be saved due to the fact they mean a lot to several communities.