Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mute Swans all over again

Today's New York Times has an article by Thomas Kaplan wherein ignorance and sentimentalism trump science and the environment. The Noble, Gentle Swan Is Anything but, to Some makes a hero of Kathryn Burton, president of SaveOurSwans U.S.A., a nonprofit organization in East Lyme, Conn. The article says Mute Swans are "considered an invasive species — a label Ms. Burton contests," but Kaplan doesn't detail either her reasoning or what the basic definition of an invasive exotic species is. The article casts a lot of heat on the issue, but sheds little light.

6 comments :

  1. i don't think it made her look like a hero. i think the article made her look kindof foolish.
    by the way, i am an environmentalist and i am a birder and i would gladly shoot the swans. things die and wildlife management is appropriate.

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  2. I was probably being a little prickly. I do think the article should have at least mentioned in passing that the Mute Swan is, indeed, a feral species, escaped from captivity, in contrast to our native Trumpeter and Tundra Swans.

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  3. Plus I really did want to see on what basis she disputed the idea that the Mute Swan is invasive. The article left that issue as a simple he said-she said thing.

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  4. Amazing that people can trash the earth... and cause way more damage than a few swans and no one gets too upset about it. We're the ones destroying the EARTHS habitat. Think about it.

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  5. Well you're certainly right about that! The tragedy is that on the one hand, natural resource experts can't control a great many of the problems people cause, but they can control this one thing that is, at root, a people problem since people introduced these swans in the first place. On the other hand, we have people who really love nature and animals, and are just trying to save a bird that they know and care about. If people understood nature better and truly loved it, they'd understand the issues here and at least try to bring the Mute Swans back into captivity, to live in small parks as they did originally here.

    We always get so polarized, and often about the wrong issues, when at the very root of virtually every problem facing us are human overpopulation and avarice.

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  6. I think one can infer her looniness (apologies to the loons) by the quotes. "They really don’t care about the birds. It’s just unjust." That's patently absurd. Obviously, "they" care about the birds -- about their negative impact on the habitat. Animal rights advocates are not necessarily environmentalists, and "neighbors" are speaking from self-interest -- swans as decoration. Swans as a species are aggressive, and with no natural enemy nearby, they will dominate a habitat and eventually overwhelm it. Addling is a humane measure, but it's obviously not good enough for fanatics like Burton.

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