The Department of Natural Resources in Michigan has decided that mute swans should be “eradicated” (killed) due to their being a “non-native species” stating they are removing sustenance from the waters of Michigan, they are aggressive, thus are a threat to humans, and the state is becoming over-populated with them.
I have a few comments and/or questions that I think should be answered before they start killing them off.
1. As the males are territorial and pairs mate for life, small lakes will usually only have one pair at a time, with only the larger lakes having groups. Given that the population is given at 15,000, over the entire state, this doesn’t seem like an over-abundance of them in any one area.
2. Michigan has a great expanse of lakes and areas where there is not a lot of habitation, so isn’t it an over-statement to say Michigan is over-populated with them? As I have lived along Muskegon Lake for over 40 years, it is rare that I have ever seen more than a small group of four or five swans at any given time. Currently there have been none living at Ruddiman Creek where I often see a couple.
3. It also is my fear is that if these eradication plans go ahead, swans deemed native to Michigan will also be killed by mistaken identity. In addition, Michigan has a lot of lakes in which these creatures can live without encroaching on people’s territory and without eating up all of its natural resources. It is my feeling that a few vocal people have gotten on the warpath on these creatures, and have created the impression that they are a “problem” that needs to be solved, when in fact, they are over-stating the case to their own purpose. For information on this subject, in addition to the Department of Natural Resources, I found information at the websites of the Cornell Lab of Orthinology in addition to general information from Wikepedia.
To my mind this subject also begs the question: How many species in the US are native to the area and how many years or eons do they have to go back to make that determination?Mute swans are genetically related to swans that inhabited the U.S. millennia ago. How can we tell the difference between the two? Many species that we have grown to like and/or use for our own purposes were brought here from other countries. Does this mean we “eradicate” all species that are not deemed native and how far back do we go in making that assessment? Mute swans have been here for a 100 years.
I do not feel that putting a hit out on the mute swans is necessary at this point. It needs further merit and further research before passing judgement and a death sentence on them. Admittedly, my opinion is driven by emotion and the love I have always had a love for these majestic and noble creatures, so I may be biased. But that’s not my fault..my last name (Cisneros-from Cigne-ros) means “keeper of the swans.” Its in my DNA. But I also think the actual facts of the case do not warrant the sentence these creatures may get. Let's take another look at this situation before making a lethal determination.