Graceful menace: States take aim at non-native swans

Wildlife biologists looking to eliminate one non-native invasive species in New York are running into fervent opposition. That’s because the mute swan is beloved by many who see it in parks, especially in the New York City area.

Mute swans have multiplied in New York, the Midwest and along the Atlantic coast since they were imported to decorate parks and estates in the 1800s. Wildlife managers say they’re aggressive to people and native waterfowl and destructive to aquatic vegetation.

Michigan, Maryland and other states have enacted management plans to reduce the mute swan population. A plan to eliminate New York’s 1,700 mute swans has been revised to emphasize preventing reproduction rather than shooting birds.

Public hearings are being held this fall.