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Reader concerned about Portage Lakes swans

8/15/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

Where have all the mute swans gone? Have you noticed that there are few, if any, mute swans left within Portage Lakes? If so, you are correct.

Under the current U.S. [Fish and Wildlife Service] and the Ohio [Department of Natural Resources], Division of [Wildlife] policy, addling (pricking a hole in or coating the egg) has been discontinued in favor of euthanasia of the adult mute swan. While the local Division of Fish and Wildlife is legally empowered to follow the new policy and its personnel have been forthright in answering my questions, the fact is that (as of the middle of July) 39 adult mute swans within Portage Lakes and Nimisila Reservoir have been euthanized — presumably by one or both of the two standard methods: a head shot or live capture/neck snap, generally done during the late spring/early summer nesting season, when the parents will defend the nest, or the molting season, when the swans cannot fly and are extremely vulnerable.

They are not subject to relocation. The reason — the mute swan’s protected status was dropped from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Ohio state law. Why — because they were originally introduced to North America from Europe (some advocates dating the introduction back to colonial days or even earlier), but that distinction makes them non-native and now are considered nuisance wildlife.

The mute swan is being eliminated in Ohio and many other states in favor of the trumpeter and tundra swans that are considered native to North America. However, it is my understanding that neither of those swans will be introduced into the Portage Lakes.

During my conversation with the local Division of Wildlife several years ago, I was advised that there was no plan for euthanasia of the mute swans, only addling of the eggs. While not a supporter of that policy, I understood the need to control numbers. Obviously, that addling policy is no longer reality. It pains me greatly knowing these beautiful creatures will no longer grace our lakes or arrive for daily hand feeding, while the abundant and protected Canadian geese and cormorants continue to foul our lakes and land. Sadly, what has already been done cannot be undone.

It’s been several weeks before my decision to put my personal feelings in print, but [I] believe residents should be informed of any such policy changes before implementation. This was the case via the news article regarding the cormorant noise harassment policy (loud booms, beginning early morning) at West Reservoir, informing residents of the late spring/early summer policy implementation. It was ultimately determined as unsuccessful — the cormorants are still residing on the island, but the half dozen resident swans are gone. Under this swan euthanasia policy, for safety reasons at very least, residents should have been forewarned of any potential shooting in their lake area. At very best, concerned residents of Portage Lakes might be able to save any remaining swans — or is it already too late?

See www.dnr.state.oh.us (Wildlife Resources/Nuisance Wildlife) for further information.

Allegonda Grob, Coventry


Editor’s note: Scott Peters, wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife for Northeast Ohio, said addling has not been discontinued. He said the Division of Wildlife uses the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines for the euthanasia of animals.

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