NEW STRATEGY FOR CONTROLLING MUTE SWANS
In a move designed to better protect the general public and control Indiana’s mute swan population, the DNR has enacted a temporary law that places more restrictions on who can lethally remove the exotic invasive species and when the mute swan threatens lake ecosystems and native wildlife.
“In dealing with this or any other invasive species, our ultimate goal is to protect the public, our native wildlife and their habitat,” said DNR Director Kyle Hupfer. “Our previous law allowed too much leeway for lethally removing these aggressive birds.
“This change reflects the concerns and comments we’ve received, allows mute swans to be taken, and maximizes our level of control over who, when and where that can happen.”
Just as with the previous law, mute swans may be lethally removed by authorized DNR employees at any time. The change is that nuisance wild animal control permits to lethally remove mute swans will be issued only to resident landowners or tenants and to other individuals who have obtained approval from a conservation officer.
Applicants must provide specific information before being considered for a permit, including: (1) the nature of the problem, (2) its exact location, (3) confirmation that the bird is a mute swan and not another species, (4) the method to be used for lethally removing the mute swan, and (5) how many mute swans are to be removed from that property.
Permits will be issued on a very limited basis and will be very restrictive in how, when and where a nuisance swan can be taken. If issued a permit, the holder would be required to notify law enforcement before lethal removal. Special restrictions will be placed for time of day, time of year and method to be used, depending on the location.
The DNR anticipates that only “nuisance” mute swans having aggressive, negative interactions with the public will be lethally removed during the traditional recreation season, which ends Labor Day. More concentrated, deliberate efforts by authorized DNR staff will be made to reduce the mute swan population when fewer people are using the lakes.
While it’s impossible to know the exact number of mute swans in Indiana, DNR biologists estimate the number at more than 1,000. Other states are also dealing with the problem. Maryland, which has the largest mute swan population in the country, has lethally removed 800 mute swans from Chesapeake Bay, primarily due to conflicts with endangered shorebirds and other native waterfowl. Michigan recently gave its DNR the authority to reduce mute swan populations to prevent interference with native species and “to protect public health, safety and welfare.”
Ohio has lethally removed 50-60 mute swans per year to prevent and reduce conflicts with their native trumpeter swans (a federally protected species). Wisconsin has an aggressive removal policy that includes shooting (where feasible), egg addling, and the issuance of permits to private landowners.