CANTON, Ohio (AP) — The killing of non-native swans by wildlife officials to make way for native ones has upset some residents who complain neighbors weren’t warned and the shootings weren’t warranted.
Representatives from Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources killed two non-native mute swans at a bog in Jackson Township last week to make way for native trumpeter swans, The Repository in Canton reported (http://bit.ly/1TMIfj1 ). The shooting came a year after wildlife officials killed another pair of swans in the bog.
Wildlife officials have been trying to decrease the mute swan population since at least 2006 and stepped up efforts two years ago, said Geoff Westerfield, assistant wildlife management supervisor. The invasive species has been known to be aggressive, and Westerfield said the birds chase away trumpeter swans, which the state considers a threatened species.
“The beauty was, as soon as we got those mute swans removed off there, those trumpeter swans came in and stayed,” Westerfield said.
Mute swans also have a large appetite, feasting on native plants, and can stir up lake sediment that prevents plants and spawning fish from getting much-needed light, Westerfield said. Wildlife officials estimated that they have removed more than 1,000 mute swans or eggs in northeast Ohio.
Residents near the bog said a pair of mute swans that were killed last year were there for seven years and showed no signs of aggression.
“They were like family to everybody around the bog,” Richard Caldas said.
Caldas’ wife, Janet, said residents weren’t notified before either shooting, and she questioned why wildlife officials would fire a gun near a residential neighborhood.
Westerfield said officials prefer to give notice but couldn’t in Jackson’s situation because they were only recently made aware of the swans and it was nearing time for their eggs to hatch. He said crews don’t shoot in the direction of homes and trails and won’t put the public in harm’s way.
Information from: The Repository, http://www.cantonrep.com