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May 14, 2009

The HSUS Condemns Md. Plan to Eradicate Mute Swans from Chesapeake Bay

Group Offers to Develop Humane, Impact-Based Management Program

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States today denounced a report calling for reducing the mute swan population of Chesapeake Bay to "as few as possible" — in essence, proposing to extirpate the remaining population of these majestic birds who grace Maryland's shorelines.

The HSUS joined with a member of the Maryland Wildlife Advisory Commission in sending a letter to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, sharply criticizing the report by the anti-swan majority on the Maryland Mute Swan Advisory Committee. The letter was addressed to John Griffin, secretary of the department. It was signed by two members of the Maryland Mute Swan Advisory Committee: John Grandy Ph.D., senior vice president of wildlife and habitat protection for wildlife at The HSUS, and E. Joseph Lamp.

A detailed minority report outlined a far wiser, non-lethal strategy to address any concerns about impacts that mute swans may have on the bay while ensuring that these regal birds remain in Maryland waters for future generations to admire.

The HSUS pointed out that the Advisory Committee process was biased from the beginning. Of the 12 members selected by the state, 10 were known to support DNR's swan-killing policies. "Needless to say, the process that followed made the committee's proposal to eradicate swans a foregone conclusion rendering the whole endeavor disingenuous and corrupt," said Lamp.

On behalf of The HSUS, Grandy added, "The Maryland Department of Natural Resources made a commitment to end the slaughter of mute swans when the population was causing negligible impacts. That's where we are now. This tragedy cannot go on."

Facts

  • DNR personnel reportedly remove swans from their nests and either shoot them in front of their lifelong mates or crush their necks with a bolt-cutter like device — a killing method considered "unacceptable" by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
  • DNR's recent actions represent a major departure from the agency's stated intentions when it began killing mute swans in 2003, which was to reduce the population to "negligible" levels, or approximately 500 birds. The current estimated population of mute swans is about 500, yet DNR continues to kill swans.
  • Talk show host and philanthropist Montel Williams, a Maryland native, sent a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley in April asking that the bay's mute swans be allowed to live out their lives in peace.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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