LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A Michigan Department of Natural Resources official has rejected a request from an animal rights group to immediately stop plans to kill thousands of mute swans.
The Detroit Free Press reports Monday that Russ Mason, chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Division, says, however, that his office is reviewing a formal proposal from the Humane Society of the United States.
The proposal also calls on the DNR to appoint local and statewide mute swan advisory committees to discuss “nonlethal management options.”
The DNR wants to reduce the state’s mute swan population from about 15,500 to fewer than 2,000 by 2030.
State officials say the birds are an invasive, nonnative species with a destructively voracious appetite for vegetation.
According to Barbara Avers, the waterfowl and wetlands specialist with the DNR’s Wildlife Division , mute swans are agressive and have been known to atack canoeists and kayaakers as well as “people on land who wanted too close to their nests or thier young.
If we don’t do anything to reduce mute swan populations, we could have 24,000 in five years,” added Avers, in a release by the DNR earlier this year. “If we allow this to happen, Michigan’s wetlands and wildlife would suffer and there would be unacceptable levels of conflict with people.”
Mute swans have been in Michigan for about a century.
At noon on Monday, a petition at change.org calling for the state to stop killing the swans had 3,485 signatures. A competing petition calling for the DNR to continue its culling efforts had 18 supporters.
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