Mute swans may not have much of a voice but the people who love them are doing a lot of squawking as the Department of Natural Resources attempts to reduce the population of this invasive species that has increased to about 15,000 birds statewide.
Recent public hearings in southern parts of the state have generated all sorts of comments and accusations, most notably from the Humane Society of the United States, which wants the DNR to appoint a mute swan advisory committee that would discuss ways of managing the birds without killing them.
Residents along lakes and other waterways either love or hate the swans. Some enjoy watching them; others view them the same way they do Canada geese – just another big bird that leaves its droppings on their lawns.
Mute swans leave more than a mess on the lawn, though. They drive native waterfowl away from nesting areas and are aggressive toward anything that wanders too closely to their nests, including humans. A man was killed near Chicago last spring when his kayak overturned in a pond as he was attacked by mute swans. Cold water and lack of a life jacket likely played a part in that person’s death – maybe the main part – but one wonders if he might have survived if he didn’t have mute swans pecking at him while he was attempting to get back in his kayak.
The Humane Society would better serve the thousands of people who support it with their donations if it would direct its attention and millions to local animal shelters. It should leave wildlife management to the DNR and other wildlife professionals.