Stop Killing Mute Swans


Target: New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens

Goal: Apologize for the murder of mute swans and abide by agreement to protect them

New York legislative officials and animal advocates recently celebrated a victory for mute swans, which came in the form of legislation calling on the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to back off its plan to slaughter the state’s whole population of mute swans by 2050. The legislation required the DEC to stop killing the birds for two years and formulate a new plan which would be subject to a public comment period and at least two public hearings. The law also mandated scientific evidence be used to formulate and justify the new management plan, specifying that non-lethal methods of controlling the population should be top priority.

Despite the law’s passage and the agency’s agreement to revisit its management plan for the birds, which the DEC considers an invasive and dangerous species, residents of Black River Bay witnessed the murder of two mute swans in front of their babies. The residents followed the culprits, who left the scene in their unmarked boat, and discovered they were employed by the DEC as “wildlife specialists.” The agency refused to apologize for the atrocity, claiming in a statement that its employees were merely “carrying out a long-standing protocol to manage this invasive species that threatens other species in this sensitive habitat.” So not only did these employees commit an unnecessary and cruel action that the DEC had agreed not to commit, but the agency excused the incident as normal and refused to acknowledge its wrongdoing. The community of Black River Bay was forced to be witness to a horrifying and inexplicable spectacle which left the baby swans orphans, and still no one has any answers.

By signing this petition, you are calling on the New York DEC to account for their actions, apologizing for the trauma they have caused to the Black River Bay community and the swans their employees orphaned. You are demanding that the DEC vow to live up to its agreement to cease murdering mute swans and begin formulating a new plan to control the population that does not involve cruelly killing swans in front of their babies.


Dear Commissioner Martens,

I am highly disappointed in the way the DEC’s employees have acted recently in murdering two mute swans in front of their babies and locals in Black River Bay. This senseless and unnecessary act of violence should never have happened because of the DEC’s agreement with the state legislature to cease killing mute swans and to formulate a new plan for population control that does not include the mass slaughter of the birds. The DEC’s response was even more shocking, in claiming that this horrific event is normative and even necessary.

I am calling on you to acknowledge publicly that this kind of behavior on the part of DEC employees is unacceptable and will not happen in the future. I urge you to explain why and how this traumatic incident could have occurred, and to terminate the employment of the individuals responsible if they cannot be trusted to uphold the agency’s agreements with the state legislature. I demand that you declare the DEC will henceforth abide by its agreement to begin using scientific evidence to create a new management plan that prioritizes non-lethal techniques for population control and that takes into account the concerns and wishes of New York residents.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: GunnerPoulsen via Wikimedia Commons

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625 Signatures

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