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May 4, 2009

Montel Williams Joins The HSUS to Call for End to Mute Swan Killing

The Humane Society of the United States

Montel Williams has joined with The Humane Society of the United States to call upon Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to end the killing of mute swans on the Chesapeake Bay.

The talk show host and philanthropist is a former Maryland resident. Williams wrote a letter in April asking the governor to allow the bay's mute swans to live out their lives in peace. 

"The few swans left in the Chesapeake are not damaging the environment, and should therefore be left to live," wrote Williams. Only 500 to 600 hundred mute swans remain in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay, a sharp reduction from the more than 3,500 that resided there just six years ago. 

Maryland's Department of Natural Resources has been killing thousands of mute swans in the Chesapeake Bay over the last several years. The DNR claims that the swans are damaging the ecosystem by consuming aquatic plants. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, run-off from chicken farms, industrial sites and construction is the main source of pollution, while outboard motors and rudders on boats destroy large amounts of aquatic vegetation. The state's 2003 mute swan management plan notes that at the level of 500 swans, their impact is "negligible." 

The DNR has also expressed concern that mute swans are not native to the Chesapeake Bay. However, the bay has been altered irrevocably over the past 300 years, and mute swans are now a naturalized and beautiful part of the estuary's ecosystem.

"Mute swans are simply being used as a scapegoat for ecosystem damage caused by many other factors, including pollution and bay-side land development," said John Grandy, Ph.D., senior vice president for wildlife and habitat protection for The Humane Society of the United States. He is a member of the Maryland Advisory Committee studying mute swan management. "Moreover, the swans are killed without any regard to alleged damage. We urge the state to reconsider their plans to continue killing swans in the Chesapeake Bay."

For more information and a petition asking Gov. O'Malley to halt the mute swan killing, visit humanesociety.org/wildlife.

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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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