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Letter to the Editor: The Killing of Mute Swans

An area resident presents her argument against the killing of mute swans on local lakes.

The following was submitted to White Lake Patch for publication.

Dear Brooke,  

As a former Orchard Lake Village Council Member, Planning Commissioner, and current Green Lake riparian, I strongly object to the misguided state policy to exterminate Michigan's Mute swans . 

In my view the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) plan to exterminate all Mute swans on State lands, allow killing on private lakes, and reduce Mutes by nearly 90% state wide is ill advised for the following reasons:

1. The state alleges that Mute swans are "voracious eaters" who take food from native trumpeter swans, as well as ducks and geese. Research shows, however, that Mutes eats different vegetation. 

2. The DNR alleges concern for loss of "aquatic vegetation", yet the state sanctions massive destruction of aquatic plants by mechanical weed harvesting, chemicals, and has overseen the loss of 50% of Michigan's wetlands.    

3. The state's supposed concern for other "waterfowl" is contradicted by the nearly 8 million geese and ducks killed by hunters in one recent year in the Midwest flight corridor alone. The DNR keeps hunting fees of nearly $1 million yearly ($15 per permit, for some 80,000 hunters). 

4. The state's alleged rampant "population growth" among Mute swans (to an estimated 15,500 in Michigan) contradicts other estimates of just 16,000 to 20,000 Mute swans nationwide.   

5. The DNR's population estimates rely upon "flyovers" by single plane, flying "transcepts" across the state during one week per year. Accuracy is also impaired by Mute's nearly identical appearance to Trumpeters, as well as their daily flights among lakes. 

6. Although Mutes are said to have been naturalized since the 1800's, some evidence suggests as early as the 1500's.  

7. Although Mute swans occasionally hiss when nesting or harassed by jet skis, the overwhelming majority of Mute swans are placid, peaceful, and pose no threat to humans or other species. In fact, the great majority of Michiganders thrill to the sight of these elegant and magnificent creatures as they wing overhead, or paddle peacefully among our lakes.  

Hopefully, the DNR will revise its misguided policy to exterminate Mute Swans.  

Nancy Davis, West Bloomfield

The viewpoints in this letter are those of the writer, and Patch is not responsible for any ideas portrayed as facts. For questions and clarifications, please leave a comment below or contact editor Brooke Meier at brooke.meier@patch.com or 248-534-7203.

David K May 11, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Everyone loves to beat down the DNR and say they have no proof of their data and claims against the swans (as well as other animals). Just saying they lie does absolutely nothing for your argument. Let's turn the tables here for a change. Where are all your stats to prove they are lying Nancy? I look forward to reading all of your sources.
Kathy Vitullo May 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM
What are they talking about. We have had no proplem with our mutes. They have not bothered us even with a new offspring when I have kayaked past them. I would be very upset to think they would consider shooting them on this small residential lake. Kathy Vitullo, Lakewood Village

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