By Edie Johnson
After requests by jet ski advocates to ‘remove’ a male swan in Greenwood Lake that they had deemed aggressive and dangerous, The USDA Wildlife Services, accompanied by the NJ State Police Marine Unit assessed his aggressiveness on September 16 after receiving a complaint. Swan advocates and wildlife rehabilitators throughout Northern New Jersey and Orange County in New York retorted that he only became protective after their nest area had been nearly drowned, and one swan nearly run over by the recreation crowd, including a pontoon boat, water skiers and a group of jet skiers. The swan advocates took video of the situation and presented it to officials and numerous area media. Soon the advocate group had expanded to letter-writers who appealed to the Lake Commission from across the US that the boaters were the aggressors and not the swan. This family group consists of two adult birds and seven cygnets (called a “flock” or if flying sometimes a “wedge”). But lake fun is important to boaters and ski fans too, and support tourism, so unfortunately there are numerous instances where the swans have been”Taken Care Of” (shot). In a strange conflict of interests they are both “protected species” and “permitted to be shot if they cause problems”.
In this instance, buoys that had kept wildlife along the shore safe from recreation crowds that use the channel had been removed or damaged. The advocates had them replaced to help keep visitors safely away from the shoreline. After the swan family disappeared for nearly a week, causing great consternation to the advocates who thought they might have been killed, they were finally found in a cove, safe from danger. The swans, in fact, had found the peaceful solution.
When the USDA and Marine Police came to assess them they found that the swans ignored their jet ski and boat, and exhibited absolutely no aggressive behavior. They also came up with several recommendations, including discouragement of the public feeding, and preventing nesting,
While nesting can be discouraged before eggs are laid, advocates are very unhappy about the alternative, which is “Oiling of the eggs” which prevents them from successfully hatching, in essence killing them. This requires a “Depredation Permit” from Fish and Wildlife.
For now, the swans have moved from the area that became troublesome. The Fish and Wildlife professional declared that there is no need for removal of the male or any other of the swans at this time, and the issue is at least settled until next year.