"What is worse? Eight little swans supposedly
chasing away game species or industrial sprawl eating away habitat?
Vermont's wildlife management agency has done nothing about development
in the very same area."
A wonderful article appeared in the Vermont Times,
on July 30, 1997 by reporter Gretchen Fryling. It was about the
game agencies' obsession to "manipulate animal populations."
Mute swans are not considered "native wildlife" although
they've been here over 100 years. They seem to have no definition
or protection at all under any law.
Normally, an animal that successfully establishes
itself in an area is considered "naturalized." That means
that, even though the species did not evolve in that territory,
it has now found its niche and is successful in maintaining its
population in the region. Naturalized and native species are normally
considered on the same ecological footing. If we were to remove
all naturalized plant and animal species from the continent, there
would be very little flora and fauna left. It is not considered
good ecological practice to introduce an exotic species into an
area, but once the deed is done, more ecological damage is done
by ripping it out than by leaving it.
[Editor's note: By the way, the same game agencies
that are calling the mute swan "exotic" introduces exotic
pheasants into the environment by the thousands to accommodate
hunters! Their ecological argument is a sham.]
The propaganda against the mute swan has begun. Jim
Shallow, Executive Director of the National Audubon Society's regional
office in Waitsfield, VT, tells of the problems mutes pose: "They
are beautiful birds but an exotic species imported from Europe.
We must get past the aesthetics and think about what's best for
the native habitat and wildlife," says Shallow. "When
they nest, they require 10 acres of land and anything that's in
this acreage is subject to attacks. They can run out an entire
flock of Canada geese." [They admit they wouldn't want that?!]
In what can only be termed "Shallow reasoning," he totally
obfuscates the normal distinction between exotic and naturalized
There are three other species of swans: trumpeters,
whooping, and tundra. The trumpeters are the largest. The waterfowl
manager of NYS has some interest in introducing them! Once theyre
introduced, it won't be long before theyll tell us we need to hunt
them to control the overpopulation. At the Atlantic Flyway meeting
that Wildlife Watch attended in Savannah, GA, the NYS game agent
asked the group that wants to teach trumpeters to migrate along
the Flyway to "come up with a history of trumpeters in NY." [He,
no doubt, wants to say he is not introducing an exotic species
but merely reestablishing an expatriated one.] The group finally
dug up a siting of a trumpeter in NY in the 1800s and triumphantly
announced it! That siting apparently will be used by the agents
to say, "It's native!" This is a prime example of the
pseudo science called "game management" at work!
Jim Shallow of Audubon says, "The mute swan
population is expanding rapidly and getting out of control." He
agrees with state game agents that a form of control must be implemented
and believes the swans must be eradicated "... short of that
there is nothing effective."
He claims that five mute swans in Maryland that escaped
in 1962 are believed to be primarily responsible for an estimated
3000 birds in the area today! [They saw the population growing
and didn't stop it?]
"We need to be aggressive in controlling the
population" said a Vermont game agency spokesperson.
It was pointed out that"the species this department
is trying to protect are the hunting targets. The bulk of their
revenue is derived from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses." The
game agency denies that any money they get is general tax money. "We
are not spending taxpayers' money in studying or controlling the
mute swans in Vermont" he said. That is the typical fib that
hunters and game agents would have you believe. They claim that
income from hunting license fees pay their salaries, and their
Pittman-Robertson (excise tax) money pays for their hunting projects.
But 25% of Pittman-Robertson money must be matched by the states
(out of general funds). Most Pittman-Robertson money comes from
collectors and target shooters who don't hunt (only 25% of all
owners of legally owned firearms are hunters). Add to that the
administrative support and overhead that general tax money pays
for, such as a secretarial staff, rent, phone, electric, printing,
supplies, equipment, postage, design, legal department and you
see that the hunting fraternity contributes very little to its
own programs. The tax dollars we are forced and tricked into paying
will not be going to our childrens education or elderly parents
health care, but rather to converting our wildlife to living targets.
"Sometimes we have to play god to decide what's
right." said one game agent.
Adam Oertly won his PR battle in Vermont. According
to the Vermont agency, the swans, instead of being killed in Vermont,
would be sent to Texas. Where in Texas? They said they couldn't
divulge that information. It was private and the organization didn't
want their identity known. We are quite concerned about that. There
is swan hunting in Texas on private canned hunt "ranches."
Editor's note: C.A.S.H.
created a loophole by which mute swans could be saved from death.
When Resolution 25 came up at the Atlantic Flyway -- to kill all
mute swans--we asked that they at least give the animal protection
community the opportunity to find "homes" for the swans
that the agents wanted removed from the wild. The Maine flyway
representative then asked that they amend the resolution to read "euthanize
and/or remove" swans from certain areas. We should ask
our game agencies to work with us to place unwanted mute swans.
If you would like to work on this project, please e-mail, fax or
IT PAYS IN ANIMALS' LIVES TO ATTEND THESE COSTLY