Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ Mute Swan Bill Heading to Governor Cuomo for Action

The mute swan bill (A.8790A) introduced by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) is being delivered to Governor Cuomo today -- and the lawmaker is urging animal rights advocates to make their voices heard and convince the state’s chief executive to sign the bill into law.
The Governor has until December 17th to act on the bill.
The legislation would establish a two-year moratorium on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s controversial plan to eradicate all wild mute swans in the state by 2025 and declare them a “prohibited species.” The also requires the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to demonstrate that actual damage to the environment or other species has been caused by the mute swan population across the state.
The legislation passed both houses of the Legislature with an overwhelming majority. Sen. Tony Avella is the bill’s sponsor in the Senate.
“People in my community feel very strongly about the mute swans that live in Sheepshead Bay and the thought of the state coming in and shooting or gassing these birds is not acceptable to anyone here,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.
Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, a member of the Environmental Conservation Committee, has urged DEC to explore non-lethal alternatives to managing the swan population.
The signing of this legislation into law would serve as a major victory for animal rights and environmental protection groups that have joined Assemblyman Cymbrowitz in fighting DEC’s plan, including GooseWatch NYC, the Regal Swan Foundation and Save Our Swans.
“Now’s the time to speak up and tell the Governor to sign this legislation,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.
Anyone wishing to write to Governor Cuomo may do so at the following address: NYS State Capitol Building, Albany, NY 12224. The Governor’s office may be reached by email at or by phone at (518) 474-8390.

Some information concerning the New York State Legislative proposal to halt the killing of all wild mute swans in the state.

A letter supporting the bill


Your agency’s draft “Management Plan For Mute Swans In New York State” is a disgrace and betrayal of your stated mission. Neither I, nor any other person who respects the true meaning of Conservation will ever look upon the name, “ New York State Department of Environmental Conservation” again without nausea. By releasing this barbaric plan, you have done a great disservice to all of your officers who must wear your agency’s logo--I will forever look upon them as killers of wildlife, not protectors.
The plan is an insult to science, animal ethics and environmental ethics. It is based on isolated field studies and poor, reductionist science. Common sense alone will convey to the average citizen of New York State, upon reading this plan, the absurdity of any rationale given for the elimination of a population of 2200 mute swans in an area the size of New York State.   The plan fails from beginning to conclusion in every aspect given to justify lethal control and molestation of an animal--through no fault of its own- who has been a resident in our environs for 100 years.
(1) From the FAA’s own data base, there have been a total of 4 swan strikes on commercial aircraft in New York State since 1990. 
(2) The plan states that the mute swan population has stabilized at 2200, and has never reached 3000 in New York State, peaking at 2800 ten years ago. Productivity charts and estimates are just that: they do not account for many other variables which can become limiting factors to population growth.
(3) The mute swan’s “aggressiveness” should be more aptly named “defensiveness.”  Only during its nesting season is it defensive of its new-born. A mute swan “attack" is more display than actual attack, and in those instances of people being chased by the male mute swan no serious injury has ever been inflicted on the person by the mute swan itself. Its defense of its nest and young towards other waterfowl is natural,  and does not “evict”perceived intruders from an area, but only causes them to move further away. Most of the year, mute swans are observed paddling side-by-side with a plethora of waterfowl.
(4) New York State’s waterways are more of a threat to the health of the mute swan, and all other waterfowl, than they are to it. Human-induced pollution from garbage, industrial and animal husbandry run-off, discarded fishing gear, and pesticides is what has compromised our waters, and not from the fecal waste of 2200 mute swans. It is your very agency who may issue permits for toxic waste dumping into state waters without guidelines--specifically around Jamaica Bay.
Rising sea-level from human-caused climate change is the greatest threat to all wetlands habitat--a threat to all migratory and sedentary waterfowl.
(5)The mute swan is a non-native species--from human intervention--but is not invasive. Your agency’s “Invasive Species Task Force” states that only 10-15% of non-native species qualify as “invasive.”  It is your own agency which releases thousands of non-native Ring-necked pheasants to appease the hunters of New York State--without concern to their being an exotic species.  The is no evidence of the mute swan causing any land degradation, population explosion, or economic harm.  It is difficult to imagine how a population of 2200 mute swans can present a threat to displacing any of New York State’s total population of over 400,000 waterfowl. Those species who remain endangered or threatened will remain endangered or threatened by loss of habitat and over-development by human agency, not from 2200 mute swans. Don S. Heintzelman, a well-known ornithologist and authority on Northern migratory swans and mute swans has stated: “...These birds do not cause catastrophic damage...In fact, tundra swans are rarely seen in New York State (and hence irrelevant to the agencies’ mindsets)...Certainly, mute swans are not pushing out New York’s small population of trumpeter swans....”
(6) The plan fails to acknowledge that the people of New York State have grown alongside these animals for generations--and wish to continue for future generations.  We want the mute swan, as well as for all of the wildlife of New York State, to live wild and free, uncontrolled and unmanaged to the greatest extent possible--the same as we would want for our own species.  The plan, instead of promoting harmony and coexistence with other species, would only highlight our unique ability to intrude into the lives of other creatures--unjustified-- and thus reinforce the public’s increasing perception that we, as a species, must be reined-in before we lose entirely our natural identity and relationship to the earth--what has been called the “an ecology of mind.”
Because of this plan, my faith in government has lessened even more.  And my faith in all those creatures with whom we share the earth has been strengthened.
Thank you for considering my comments.

Another letter:

PLEASE sign this bill, Governor Cuomo, by Dec. 17th.  I speak not only for myself, but for the Board of Directors of Four Harbors Audubon, on the north shore of Long Island, Suffolk County.  We bravely and rightfully stood apart last spring from National and State Audubons, and do so again to speak for defending a 2-year moratorium on a State mute swan management plan. Towards this end, we sent a timely, detailed, and comprehensive response last spring to DEC regarding their "swan management proposal", noting extensive flaws in this document, including invalid scientific studies, inadequate data acquisition, remiss protocol, and speculative conclusions, to name a few.  As a long-term science educator, retired NYS biology teacher, experienced NSTA instructor, and NYS Education Dept K-8 education mentor and assessment consultant, I am particularly disturbed by the potential loss of one of our largest state wildlife creatures. Children respond to what they observe around them, and they learn much by their own direct experience. From these experiences, they gain awareness of their natural world and process these interactions into meaningful perspective.  From this perspective, they make choices as adults, as voting citizens, consumers, and neighbors.  Eliminate this large avian species, and NYS eliminates one of the few large wild creatures that our urban and suburban children get to experience in their immediate surroundings. This is not only misguided, but tragic, reducing the window of our children's future into nature programs and youtube.  We ask for your thoughtful consideration in extending a moratorium, as well as in the adoption of any mute swan management plan.  Furthermore, we request that you consider extensive public input to draft its revisions.  As representative of Four Harbors Audubon, I also offer our services to take part in drafting such a new proposal.  Thank you.

A letter to the editor:

This is in regard to the story, " Bill to halt eradication of mute swan on Cuomo's desk," from Dec. 6.

As children, we're all taught to "look, before crossing" (the street). Why can't all the grown-ups in our government, whose salaries we help pay for managing that precious "resource" named wildlife, "think, before killing"?

Think — that for every justification given to us for killing our state's white-tailed deer, resident Canada geese, beavers, black bear and now a measly 2,200 mute swans, reflects what we ourselves as a species is most culpable of: overpopulation, overexpansion, overconsumption, overaggression and most important of all, overvaluation.

With his signature, Gov. Andrew Cuomo can choose life before politics and prejudice, and save an animal from persecution whose only crime appears to be that it is alive and well in a land it must call home. By doing so, he will instead help eradicate the spiritual poverty that afflicts us.

Jeffrey Kramer


volunteer, GooseWatch NYC

A downstate letter to our upstate residents (Letters to Editor 12/14)--

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This page is devoted to Geese and Swan activity in New York State and City.
This is a link to a recent USDA roundup and killing of 24 Canada Geese in Inwood Hill Park in New York City.
This is a very disturbing and difficult to watch Video, but clearly represents and shows the  cruelty and inhumane actions of those intent on killing Canada Geese.

Here are email addresses of those you may want to contact:

Here is a link to a television report on the killing incident.