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Talk About Town: Will You Get A Permit to Kill Mute Swans?

The state Department of Natural Resources is looking to enlist residents to help control the ever expanding mute swan population.

It's a hot topic, especially in communities with a lot of lakefront property, how do you take care of a mute swan problem?

In response to the growing mute swan population in Michigan, the state Department of Natural Resources is now advertising a permit that will allow residents to kill mute swans. A practice that is upsetting some lakefront property owners in the area.

"This is barbaric," White Lake Patch reader Lori Bender said of the killing. "If you don't like swans and geese, don't live on a lake."

According to an article appearing on the Great Lakes Echo, the DNR is asking residents to help shoot and kill 13,500 mute swans. Michigan, the article states, has the largest mute swan population in North America with 15,500, according to the DNR.

Mute swans were brought to the United States from Europe in the late 1800s. The mute swan population in Michigan originated from one pair introduced in Charlevoix County in 1919. The swans are called mute swans because, overall, they don't make very much noise, especially when comparing them to other native swans such as trumpeter swans according to the DNR.

For many, the swans are a beautiful bird. There are several White Lake residents who have stated they enjoy seeing the birds on their lakes and lawns, along with the geese, and that they are against the killing of the birds.

"I love 'my' swans," White Lake Patch reader Heather Orow said. "They sometimes sit in my yard and in three years have never become aggressive towards anyone. My family, friends, and I really enjoy watching them. I would do just about anything to protect them."

Others state that the mute swans are an invasive species and can cause havoc when they attack boaters, swimmers and other native waterfowl species.

"They are an invasive species," White Lake Patch reader David Kook said. "They ruin the habitat for other animal species that are supposed to be here. You like having big white birds swimming in your lakes? What's wrong with the native trumpeter swan that would be there if we thinned out the mute swans? You like having baby ducks/geese/swans in your lakes? You would have more if you got rid of the mute swans."

Permits to shoot the mute swans, along with permits to destroy mute swan nests and eggs, are available here through the DNR. You must have a permit to shoot the swans.

So, White Lake Patch wants to know:

Will you be applying for a permit to kill mute swans on your lake? Does the plan to kill off most of the invasive mute swan species in Michigan upset you?

Andrew Stoddard May 09, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Only if I am forced to when the Mute Swan Apocolypse descends upon us all!
TIMMY POWER May 09, 2012 at 04:09 PM
CANT WAIT TO HARVEST A FEW. I BET THEY TASTE GREAT.
Jennifer Sonnenberg May 09, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Look how over populated the world is, just because there is an over abundance that doesn't give us the right to kill. So NO, I am against killing. Animal or human we all have a right to live. We were put here for a greater purpose!
Becky May 09, 2012 at 05:38 PM
i wouldnt kill any but the swans on oxbow lake are mean, my kids were in a paddle boat and two of the swans chased them, we were also on a boat and the kids were jumping off the boat in the middle of the lake and swans came after the kids. my brother lives on oxbow and sometimes can not let the kids out because the swans will come right up to there house and if you are out side they will hiss at you. i have never seen such mean swans before till my brother bought a house on oxbow!
Erica Sikma May 09, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I'm sure my husband would be interested, as a hunter, although he usually hunts for meat, not just for the "sport" of it. I grew up on White Lake, and dislike Mute Swans; they are a nuisance and aggressive in nature. I feel that the DNR is taking a positive step in controlling a non-native species, much like the culling of deer at Kensington when the population gets too high.
Erica Sikma May 09, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Whoops, let me clarify: deer are native species, but their population needs to be controlled, which is why I also agree with hunting permits for the mute swans being offered to the public.
David K May 09, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Good point. Lets let the swans take over the state (and all other areas they were brought into) and force out our native species...and then let the population become so large that they get and spread disease to do it mother natures way. This will be way better indeed! This couldn't be more sarcastic in case you missed it.
cheryl farner May 10, 2012 at 04:26 PM
no WAY! I appreciate that we too are an invasive species, and that we should all live together. I am very upset at this idea. People shooting around small lakes is not very safe to begin with. I do not see the average person as capable of not making a mistake as to species, etc. I see it as a DNR grab at cash. They are wonderful creatures who have strong bonds with their mates and children and there is going to be a lot of sad consequences to this idea. DNR needs to be reigned in. They are not only mis-informing the public stating as fact a lot of conjecture, they are also NOT telling people that no studies in Michigan have even been done in a scientific manner. This is shameful and down right wrong.
Rhonda May 10, 2012 at 11:24 PM
The MI DNR has poisoned the mind of many Michigan residents. The DNR is going on a "hunt" without justification and without valid research. The DNR calls the Mute Swans an invasive species that is invading the lakes of Michigan and destroying vegetation. If they are destroying so much vegetation, why do we dump chemicals to kill off the vegetation? Maybe we need more swans to clear the up the vegetation. There maybe a few lakes with aggressive swans who have had to hide their nests and young selectively so they are not hit by jet skis, boats, wakes and other human bombardment, and these swans are protective. However, like human mother's, Mute Swan's protect their young and nests from perceived threats. The protective actions are a just consequence of human involvement. Further, the DNR has not SHOWN any accurate information regarding the numbers of Swans in Michigan. I live in area where there are many lakes, and I have only seen one swan on the chain of seven to the South of me. Perhaps, instead of termination, we could find ways to work with the Swans and PROTECT their habitat not execute them. Perhaps the threat is an over zealous DNR and hunting squadron that wants to destroy the beauty that is around us. There are plenty of people that like to kill animals for the mere sake of it. If you open the flood gates, these swans have no chance. Please, the decision to hunt the swans is perhaps one of the most disturbing decisions I have seen in the State of Michigan.
Cecile Whapham May 11, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Has the DNR, State of Michigan, ever really allowed/given out proof of the numbers they are spewing viciously to the public? I do not believe there are 15,500 mutes in Michigan! How did they arrive at the numbers? Was their research done IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN or elsewhere? Having viewed the same mute pair for 18 years...7 to 9 cygnets per year....rarely does any one of them survive,for they become food for snapping turtles....so....prove your elevated numbers, DNR! I do not believe you or your numbers....and think others, with a brain of their own, should do the same. This is a farce, perpetrated by those with a hidden agenda...trumpeter swans reintroduced, perhaps?
ASteinberg May 11, 2012 at 04:10 AM
So much false information is being deliberately circulated by the DNR. The plan to kill the Mute Swans has nothing to do with them being an invasive species; it has to do with the fact that they want to displace the Mutes and replace them with the Trumpeters (an even more aggressive species than the Mutes - one actually grabbed the wheels of a small airborne airplane and shook it!) as the next trophy animal in the bird hunting world, the largest North American waterfowl. They hunted the Trumpeter to near extinction, now they are restoring it, even in places it never existed, thereby making it invasive in those areas- because they are building up the species to kill them again. Logical, no? This time, the DNR is sending one of their personable robot representatives around to all the lakefront communities with their bogus data - they USED to simply come out in the middle of the night and kill the swans silently and secretly, and when questioned, lied and told people they flew away. Since word of that got out, they are trying to villefy the Mutes and get everyone onboard with killing them. They have not one shred of research from Michigan because they never did any environmental impact study in this state. They are co-opting data from Maryland, a state with no natural lakes (Michigan has over 11,000 lakes - really, there's no room for swans on any of them?). Furthermore, Maryland's data was thrown out of a federal court as junk science, because it was worthless.
ASteinberg May 11, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Here is what Michigan doesn't want you to know about Maryland's information: Maryland’s DNR has repeatedly stated that Mute swans have only a “negligible” impact on their major waterway, the Chesapeake. Then they tried to change their story and came out with claims that the Mute swans kill off eelgrass, which is used by other waterfowl. However, there have been three WORLDWIDE die-offs of eelgrass since 1900. This is a cyclical occurrence. The eelgrass can also be killed by a four degree temperature rise in the water, pollutants and, since it grows in shallow water, heavy boat usage and fast boat speeds, as well as dredging and trawling. The Chesapeake Bay has 2.5 MILLION birds go through each year. The 3,000 Mute swans, most of which were killed, were not harming anything. The “management” of our natural resources ~ animals, birds, fish, air and water ~ has played a destructive role and created the loss of great bodies of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay, which has suffered phosphorous bomb testing in the 1920s; dumping by paper companies and other industry; the development of its shoreline, with accompanying over-fertilization and thus runoff and pollutants; pig and chicken farms right on the shore, adding to that massive mix. The swans were killed off – and the Chesapeake STILL has all the problems that were blamed on the swans.
Karen May 11, 2012 at 04:24 AM
WHERE ARE THE MICHIGAN FACTS AND STUDIES? THERE ARE NONE. NO STUDIES ON HOW FERTILIZERS, TREATMENT PLANTS, LEAD, MERCURY, POLLUTION FROM FACTORIES, BOATS, WEED HARVESTING METHODS ARE EFFECTING OUR LAKES. NOT EVEN TRUE STUDIES ON THE NATIVENESS OF THE TRUMPETER EXIST. IT IS A FACT THAT THE TRUMPETERS ARE THE TROPHY BIRDS FOR HUNTERS . IF WE GET AN ESTABLISHED POPULATION, IT WOULD MEAN BIG BUCKS FOR THE DNR. MAYBE THATS WHY DNR'S MAIN GUY, JOE JOHNSON, WHO BUY THE WAY HAS BEEN QUOTED AS SAYING THAT THE TRUMPETER CAN HOLD IT'S OWN AGAINST THE MUTE SWAN, HAS BEEN BRINGING IN TRUMPETER EGGS FROM ALASKA.
Karen May 11, 2012 at 04:25 AM
DONT ALWAYS BELIEVE WHAT OUR GOVERNMENT AGENCIES WANT YOU TO BELIEVE. ASK THEM FOR PROOF FOR MICHIGAN STUDIES. WE SHOULD BE THE STUDY STATE NOT MARYLAND WITH NO NATURAL LAKES. WE HAVE 11,000 PLUS INLAND LAKES. THIS DOES NOT EVEN INCLUDE RIVERS, PRIVATE PONDS AND LAKES,RETENTION PONDS, MARSHES, AND LAKES UNDER AN ACRE. THE DNR USES ONE PLANE THAT FLIES OVER THE ENTIRE STATE IN ONE WEEK WITH A COUPLE PEOPLE USING BINOCULARS TO COUNT THE SWANS. WE ASKED FOR THE FORMULA THEY USE AND THEY WERE UNABLE TO GIVE US ONE. WHY ARE LAKEFRONT OWNERS THE ONES BEING PERMITTED TO TELL US WHAT ANIMALS CAN LIVE ON THE LAKES AND WHICH ONES HAVE TO DIE. WE ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO THE WATER, NOT A SELECT FEW. THOSE OF US WITH LAKE ACCESS - PUBLIC, PRIVATE AND THOSE THAT JUST LIKE THE VIEW WHEN DRIVING BY, SHOULD ALL HAVE A SAY. TO KILL SOMETHING BECAUSE IT GETS IN THE WAY OF YOUR BOAT OR POOPS ON YOUR PROPERTY IS NOT A GOOD REASON. THOSE OF YOU TRYING TO DEFEND THE NATIVE BIRDS, WE AREN'T BUYING THAT EITHER. YOU WOULD RUN THEM OVER JUST AS FAST. YOU WILL NEVER SEE A TRUMPETER SWAN ON A LAKE WITH JET SKIS AND MOTOR BOATS FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. SAME WITH A LOON.
ASteinberg May 11, 2012 at 04:26 AM
The irrational level of hate against a bird is simply beyond belief. Especially when the bird is the majestic creature that has been the inspiration of the most famous classical ballet in the world, the subject of some of the most beloved fairy tales told to generations of children the world over, and the object of numerous works of poetry, music and art.....the greatest artists in the world have found creative influence in the Mute Swan's grace and beauty....and yet, somehow, you comprehend none of this. When do “alien” species stop being “alien? Especially given that in much of Michigan, virtually EVERY wildlife species is invasive. In the case of Mute Swans, the ecological niche they fill is one that we created by “Europanizing” so much of North America. No one has ever explained why Mute Swans would threaten a species here or damage the environment when they have co-existed with the same species in Eurasia and have no negative impact of habitat there. And even when not, they often have co-existed with species very similar to the ones found here…all the more so as a result of changes we have imposed. Also, Mute Swans have actually been here 200-300 years, and that isn't including the ones that may very well have migrated along with Trumpeters, and Tundra swans. They are circumboreal birds.
Karen May 11, 2012 at 04:27 AM
THE DNR CLAIMS THE SWANS ARE AGGRESSIVE TOWARDS THE CANADA GOOSE, YET THEY ALLOW THE SAME ASSOCIATIONS, YEAR AFTER YEAR, TO DO GOOSE ROUND -UPS ON LAKES THAT HAVE SWANS ON THEM. THEY GET $100 TO $200 PER PERMIT, PLUS THE REMOVAL COMPANY GETS A PAYCHECK AS WELL. THEY SEPARATE THE ADULTS FROM THEIR BABIES (DNR CLAIMS THEY DO NOT KNOW THEIR BABIES), AND THEY ARE TAKEN TO HUNTING AREAS, NOT SANCTUARIES. THEY HAVE AN EXTENDED HUNTING SEASON ON THEM. THOSE THAT MAKE IT OUT ALIVE WILL MOST LIKELY RETURN TO THE LAKES THEY WERE TAKEN FROM, AND THE PROCESS STARTS ALL OVER. MOST OF THESE LAKES HAVE NO DETERRENTS AND SOME LAKES LIKE WOLVERINE LAKE HAVE 241 ACRES OF WATER BUT STILL PAID THE $200 TO HAVE 16 GEESE REMOVED FROM THEIR LAKE LAST YEAR. THEN THERE'S ORCHARD LAKE, 788 ACRES AND REMOVED 32 GEESE LAST YEAR. PERHAPS 2 OF THE WORST ARE DEER LAKE (137 ACRES) AND LOWER LONG LAKE (178ACRES), BOTH REMOVED ONE GOOSE FROM THIER LAKES LAST YEAR. WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR SOCIETY WHERE WE CAN'T GET ALONG WITH ANYTHING.
Karen May 11, 2012 at 04:33 AM
FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT LIKE THE SWANS AND LIVE ON A LAKE WITH PEOPLE WHO HATE THEM, BE ADVISED, THEY WILL GO BEHIND YOUR BACKS AND GET THE PEOPLE LIKE THEM TO SIGN A PETITION TO HAVE THEM REMOVED. WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS MAKE SURE THAT THE SIGNATURES WERE VERIFIED BY THE LOCAL CITY OR TOWNSHIP, PER DNR RULES, AND A COPY OF THE PETITION MUST BE DISPLAYED SOMEPLACE WHERE THE PUBLIC CAN VIEW IT, PER DNR MUTE SWAN POLICY. PLEASE CONTACT helpwaterfowl@gmail.com IF YOU HEAR OF ANY SWAN KILLINGS THAT WILL BE HAPPENING IN YOUR AREA. PLEASE GO TO CHANGE.ORG AND SEARCH MUTE SWAN TO SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE OUR SWANS. DEMAND TO SEE THE MICHIGAN STUDIES FROM OUR DNR!
ASteinberg May 11, 2012 at 04:38 AM
While Michigan's DNR claims a population of 15,500 Mutes, that is impossible since there have never been more than 16-20,000 Mutes in the entire United States, and that was BEFORE they started silently killing them off starting in 2005. Michigan's population count consists of one guy with binoculars in a small plane flying over doing visual counts on lakes. This hasn't even been done in some years. Hardly enough data on which to predicate destruction of a species. 15,000 is a low number and actually would qualify some species for endangered. The DNR will never answer questions at their lake community meetings because they have no answers when they have no real research. A few years ago on a lake in Indiana, a man rescued his teenage daughter from a Mute Swan "attack." What wasn't so widely reported was the fact that the girl and some of her friends had made little nooses out of rope and were trying to kill the cygnets. All wildlife, and especially waterfowl, are extremely protective and aggressive when it comes to their nests and their young. Instead of condemning them for this instinctive and necessary survival trait, we should respect it and use common sense and leave them alone. In Europe where these birds are protected and respected, people are far better educated on how to coexist with them. The fact that you cannot share the immense lakes you have in Michigan with waterfowl says far more about the human species than the swans.
Anne Honhart May 11, 2012 at 08:14 PM
After spending several months on my brother's lakes in SE Michigan last summer, I witnessed daily a mother swan on her nest in the 90 degree heat only to hatch and later lose her 4 signets to presumably bass, snapping turtles or possibly a hawk. My brother witnessed the same reduction every year, once trying to save a turtle chewed signet to no avail. This same pair of swans who lost their young were friendly to people and to other waterfowl, bobbing in the water along the shore. My brother used to allow them to rest and nest on his lawn. They never were hostile to him, but he was wise enough never to corner them or interfere with their nesting, unlike some jet skiers who foolishly pursue the swans. Only once did he break up a fight between two male mute swans, but then more than once he had to break up mallard ducks that were killing a female. My brother and his neighbors have over the years used herbicides to knock out the sub aquatic plants that tangle on swimmer's legs and boat propellers and fishing lines. They spend hundreds of dollars each year on chemicals or try raking the "seaweed". Other lake owner's hire harvesters that spend much of the summer piling up the vegetation in the shallow waters. I find the DNR's reasons for killing swans flimsy - too many, hostile birds and destroyers of habitat. In all the years that my brother lived on his two lakes he never witnessed the swans as the DNR has depicted them.

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