Mute swans collared for DEC research | DEC photo
Mute swans collared for DEC research | DEC photo

Friday was a busy day in the fight over whether to kill and capture New York’s mute swans, as planned by the state Department of Environmental Conservation earlier this year.

State Senator Kenneth LaValle announced Friday that he has introduced legislation to immediately halt the eradication of the mute swan, while the DEC announced Friday that it plans to revise the plan with different goals for different areas of the state, and to pursue “non-lethal methods of controlling the swan population.

Mr. Lavalle’s bill (S.6667) establishes the moratorium on the swan eradication plan and calls for an independent study of its tenets. It joins an assembly bill co-sponsored by State Assemblyman Fred Thiele in January that calls for a two-year ban on implementing the DEC’s plan.

“Among the many issues raised about the DEC’s plan were questions of the validity of the justification of the proposed actions,” said Mr. LaValle in announcing the bill. “It appears that the DEC utilized 40-year-old data to come to the decision…. It’s always been about the science for me.  Haphazard planning without the science to back up the theories is not acceptable.”

The legislation would require the board studying the plan to issue a report within four months of receiving the study.

The DEC confirmed Friday that the agency has received more than 1,500 in-depth comments, 16,000 form letters and 30,000 signatures on several petitions, most from people who oppose the plan, by the Feb. 21 deadline.

“The draft plan for management for mute swans received significant public interest and DEC received many thoughtful and substantive comments,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement Friday. “DEC is listening to these comments and concerns and will revise the draft plan and provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the revised plan this spring.”

The revised plan is expected to be ready later this spring, after which the DEC will hold another 30-day comment period and will meet with stakeholders, according to the DEC.

“We appreciate the strong response that the draft plan received, and it’s clear that New Yorkers recognize the importance of a comprehensive mute swan management plan that balances the interests of a diversity of stakeholders,” said Mr. Martens. “The revised plan will seek to balance the conflicting views about management of mute swans in New York.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

2 thoughts on “DEC Revises Swan Plan, LaValle Calls for Investigation

  1. When asked for comment in a round-robin session about the DEC’s press announcement on Friday , the swans invoked the cardinal rule, craned their necks, gave owl-eyed looks, goosed one another, groused, turned turkey, ducked the question, chickened out, walked away pigeon-towed . . . and remained mute.

    One, though, (I think his name was Jay), is usually taci-tern, wren-ched his back by parroting the question, and then swallowed hard and sniped “This is our swan song, so please speak up – I’m having trouble heron you. The gull of some people – what loons! Like they never had an albatross around their necks?”

    Birds of a feather, ya know?

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