Rehabilitation Banned For Mute Swans

Michigan’s invasive species generally earn the moniker: They’re “invaders” that quickly spread to uncontrollable numbers, killing native species and refusing to give up their hold on their acquired land.

Michigan Mute swans don’t quite fit the invader model.  In fact, many people would probably be surprised to learn the birds are invasive. They have been a part of Michigan since as far back as most people can remember.

The population of mute swans in Michigan was estimated to be about 15,500 in 2010, a dramatic increase of about 10,000 in 10 years. Although the swans aren’t a visible threat to native species, they compete for nesting areas with trumpeter swans and loons, both iconic and threatened native species in Michigan.

The swans were originally from Europe or Asia and brought to the U.S. as a decorative species in the late 1800s and eventually made their way to Michigan. The mute swan is an aggressive species and has few predators. Due to already low Trumpeter Swan numbers, the mute swan is able to outcompete the native species and thrive.

The Department of Natural Resources has been attempting to manage the number of mute swans for many years. The Michigan Natural Resources Commission recently voted to ban rehabilitation and release of injured mute swans as way to control their numbers. Institutions will be mandated to either euthanize or keep the swans in their custody. The mandate was passed in hopes to allow native species an opportunity to regain numbers and to cull the growing number of a species that was being reported as a nuisance in many occasions.

The decision has sparked controversy. There are many individuals who are not willing to let injured swans die under their watch. State and local organizations are leery of euthanizing the animals for fear of public backlash and are unable to keep the animals under their custody. The result is many swans dying in the wild.

The case is an example of the complexity that can be involved in species management. The decision made by the Natural Resource Commission was made with the betterment of local ecosystems in mind, but does not fall in line with the beliefs of many animal rights advocates and Michigan bird lovers.

0 replies
  1. Barbara Toshalis
    Barbara Toshalis says:

    Many bird lovers who understand ecology are pleased that there will be actions taken to reduce the Mute Swan population. They are ruining wetlands and keeping Trumpeter Swans from replenishing their native lands. Audubon officials have been quoted to support these moves. Just ask Tom Funke, Conservation Director for Audubon in Michigan.

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  2. Patti
    Patti says:

    Sounds like Barbara is a Republican. She has to be if she believes the Audubon Society is good for animals. I have found in my research that the Audubon Society might as well call themselves the NRA or a Front for the Mismanagement of Animals so they can be hunted for fun. What idiot believes that everything that is considered non-native should be eliminated? I think people for this mismangement of the mute swans also believes that it was okay to slaughter American Indians just because the white man wanted their land. In my research I have come to the conclusion that the mute swans NOW have to go because they do go after the Canada Geese and the DNR has now changed their direction on the geese to make them more plentiful so they can be hunted. The DNR has been around since 1921, why can’t they get anything right? They really should be call the Dept. of Mismanagement of all Natural Resources.

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    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Well said, Patti, I couldnt have said it better! And ditto on the American Indians! There are too many people who “parrot” what other people say and take it as the gospol truth,and have no idea what they are talking about. I have watched the Mutes for about 40 years and I have yet to see them deplete the ponds of food,have seen plenty of ducks nesting on site,which the swans never bother,and the geese they go after, but only for a short time,during the nesting season. And they do allow the geese to nest, I have seen their nests and the young goselings, in fact this past spring a swan and a goose made their nests within 20 feet of each other! Territorial,every animal is, I have been attacked in my own yard by the little House Wren when I got too close to their fledglings,and by the Blue Jays as well. Non native, how can that be? When everything was created we were one land mast only seperated by the floating of the continents. So many people forget the northern flyway, how do you think the American Indian got here? And they are now finding fossils of mutes that were here long before the 1800s. Man is his own worst enemy,he has never had any RESPECT for the land or its inhabitants.

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