Sheila Bolin is the CEO and co/founder of The Regal Swan Foundation, Inc., based in Orlando, Florida.  In 2014, Bolin was named one of the top 39 conservationists in the world by the prestigious Indianapolis Prize for her work with the word's species of swans.

Bolin spoke at the International Swan Symposium held in Easton, Maryland, February 3-6. This Symposium hosted some of the world's leading swan experts.

The Regal Swan Foundation, Inc., was named as the 2013 John Muir Non-profit Conservation Award Recipient for its swan research and conservation efforts.

In 2010, Bolin was nominated as Scientist of The Month, by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, based in Gland, Switzerland, for her swan research work. Bolin also serves as a member of the Swan Specialists Group.

 

February 3-6th 2014, The International Swan Symposium was held in Maryland. Swan specialists from around the world presented papers and discussed the status of swan species.  Many expressed concern about the killing of Mute Swans based upon non-scientific research.  Even more disconcerting was that in the 70’s, the U.S. government asked scientists, worldwide, to name a species as the International Symbol of World Peace. The Mute Swan was chosen.
The arbitrary eradication of Mute Swans began in the 1990’s. The plan was to kill the Mute Swans, systematically one state at a time until all Mute Swans could be removed so that the larger Trumpeter Swan species could be re-introduced as a Trophy Waterfowl for hunting purposes. The plan to approve the killing one state at a time would be less controversial in the public's eye rather than to kill all mute swans in every state at once. Therefore, the killing began in Maryland with the same non-researched based misinformation and then presented to politicians and the citizens in Michigan and other states. Once it was accepted in Michigan, it has now moved to New York with the general plan to move to another state, Ohio in the very near future.  
The entities behind the killing of the Mute Swans in the U.S.,  are state and federal wildlife agencies and the Audubon Society, all which purportedly protect wildlife.  In Canada, opponents of the killings have reported that Ducks Unlimited is the major proponent for the eradication.  Again, the massacre of Mute Swans is to increase hunting permits to increase state and federal wildlife coffers that are being significantly decreased with budget constraints.
Four non-scientific reasons have been presented for killing the Mute Swans:  Non-native, aggressive and displace other waterfowl, negative ecological impact-eat too much aquatic vegetation and add too much nitrogen to the habitat, invasive
I have provided you with notes from papers that were presented at the Symposium and comments from paper presentations made by the Michigan and Maryland DNR officials. I think that their comments speak volumes of how the killing of Mute Swans was conducted and the amount of taxpayer money wasted based upon non-scientific research.
 
According to Barb Avers, Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, DNR, used canned information to educate politicians, the media and the general public in order to buy into the killing of Mute Swans. The four rationales were non-native, invasive, detriment to the environment and aggressive.   Michigan, New York, Maryland, other DNR's and the Audubon Society consistently parrot these in their canned information.  
New York states there is a possibility that Mute Swans are a threat to aircraft, even though the FAA's Wildlife Strikes to Civilian Aircraft 1990-2012 does not list Mute Swans as ever striking an aircraft or posing a threat.
AVERS MICHIGAN DNR:   After convincing the public, the media and politicians using this misinformation, Michigan's DNR decided on a new plan in 2007. They want to kill more Mute Swans with or without the input from these same politicians, media and public that they had to buy into the initial plan.  Even though the PRESENT MUTE SWAN POPULATION IN MICHIGAN IS STABLE, they want to kill more.  The numbers already killed:   26,000 birds. 
Fossils of a homologue of the Mute Swan, dating 25 million years ago, have been found in several North American sites with a Mute Swan sternum found in Canada was dated 300 years ago. There is also a painting from 1585 by John White which depicts a Mute Swan. The painting speaks for itself in showing that the Mute Swan was here prior to the 1800's.
Depending on which side of the fence (proponent or opponent of the killing) one sits, determines if the above information is or is not accepted as there are scientists that agree with the fossil information and others who disagree.  In any case, U.S. Wildlife Services pushed a bill through Congress (without taxpayer knowledge) to have Mute Swans removed from the Migratory Bird Act based upon being non-native.
The definition of native vs reintroduction seems to be the problem.  At the Swan Symposium, Michigan DNR officials, Barb Avers and Luukkonen stated, Trumpeter Swan eggs were taken from Alaska, incubated at the Milwaukee Zoo and the swans reintroduced to Michigan in the 90's.  The Trumpeters were also re-introduced to Ohio in the 90's.  Most all Trumpeter Swans breed in Alaska and winter in British Columbia. 
Therefore, the Trumpeter reintroductions were after the cut-off point of reintroduction designated by U.S. Wildlife Services, which stated that if a species was not here before the 1800’s without being reintroduced, the species could not be considered native. This was the basis to remove the Mute Swan from protective status. So in effect, the U.S. Wildlife Services changed the rules to specifically mark the Mute Swans for eradication.

Avers stated that the cost of the killing of the Mute Swans in Michigan was approximately $100,000-125,000 dollars by U.S. Wildlife Services, $25,000 Michigan DNR ( does not include the number of staff utilized or salaries) and did not address the amount of money spent to reintroduce the Trumpeter Swans (Alaska travel, harvest, incubate eggs, etc.)   Avers stated the program (killing and reintroduction) will run out of money in the next few years. So, why is this killing and eradication effort being conducted, if this program cannot be sustained?
FACT: Mute Swans are NO more aggressive than any other wildlife species in protecting their nests or young. (C. Perrins, Her Majesty’s Swan Warden, 2014; L. Nilsson, Biodiversity Wetlands International, Sweden 2014; J. Coleman, Australia, 2014; B.Nolet, Wetlands Biologist, The Netherlands, 2014). Whooper Swans will displace Mute Swans in territories that compete for molting, nesting and breeding. (J.Morkunas, Lithuania 2014) Trumpeter Swans will chase and kill Mute Swans and other waterfowl. They are larger and more aggressive than geese (Bolin, et al, 2014, Handrigan, 2014)
FACT: Mute Swans are not invasive and do not destroy the environment any more than any other waterfowl species such as ducks and geese (C. Perrins, England; B. Nolet, The Netherlands, 2014, J. Coleman, Australia, 2014). Mute Swans weigh approx. 30 lbs and eat approx. 8 lbs of aquatic vegetation, Trumpeter Swans weigh 40 lbs and their cygnets eat approx. 20 lbs of aquatic vegetation. 
In Sweden, Mute Swans are SENTINEL birds indicating that there is something wrong with the environment.  There are 10,000 Mute Swans in an area smaller than what is being proposed to kill the swans in NY with NO negative ecological impact.  If the population drops below 10,000, wildlife biologists are mandated to research why the drop occurred (L. Nilsson, Sweden, 2014).
Mute Swans are a Sentinel species and were the first waterfowl to alert us to a bacteria that was attacking their feathers and is now present (10 years later) in other waterfowl.  (Bolin, et. al, 2014).
Schummer, et.al Elemental Contaminants in Livers of Mute Swans on Lake Erie and St. Clair, 2011,  states that Mute Swans are a Sentinel bird in alerting scientists to the presence of heavy metals such as lead and copper. 
 
A SENTINEL species does not harm the environment, but is an early indicator of a problem in the environment.
 
FACT: Mute Swans Are not Going to Overpopulate an area past the carrying capacity of the habitat:
Garton & Shea Changing viability of Greater Yellowstone populations of Trumpeter Swans  paper presented at the 2014 International Swan Symposium, states Trumpeter Swans flock toward stability- quasi-equilibrium (carrying capacity).  If their numbers increase too much, then there is a decline to go back to the carrying capacity. (SAME AS MUTES & OTHER WILDLIFE SPECIES).
Perrins  The Demography of the Mute Swans on the River Thames paper presented at the 2014 International Swan Symposium, stated based upon 200 years of record keeping, the Mute Swan flock along the River Thames has stabilized. Years in which the numbers decreased were due to World War II, lead poisoning and trying to control their populations with egg addling. After this point, all Mute have been left un-managed but protected, with no problems in over population, etc. (Just as Garton, et al stated the flocks reach a quasi-equilibrium (carrying capacity) that they maintain).
Wheeler, D. Swan Herder, Abbotsbury Swannery, Abbottsbury, England. Personal communication 2007, Mute Swans at the swannery practice a form of birth control in that the swan population will never go above what the habitat can sustain.  The Mute Swan flock at Abbotsbury include a sustained year-round wild free-range swan population as well as some wild migratory Mute swans. The 2-acre swannery hosts a general population at any given time of 600 Mute Swans with approximately 150 breeding pairs. Again, the swan population DOES NOT go above the carrying capacity of the habitat of the swannery.
 FACT: Hindman (Maryland DNR) was asked by a Symposium participant if the killing of the Mute Swans in Maryland had any positive impact on the Chesapeake Bay's health. Hindman’s response was: ONLY ANECDOTAL information, no research, but the nitrogen levels were still high in the Bay.   Hindman stated: The Maryland DNR reduced 60% hatchings, removed swans using lethal methods, 2 nesting pairs left at this time.  Since 2011-2013  1,683 nests destroyed, 9,403 eggs destroyed.   Yet, there are still high levels of nitrogen in Chesapeake Bay. These nitrogen levels were the initial excuse used for killing Mute Swans.
Hindman was asked if the Maryland DNR ever conducted a NEPA study that the Federal Court requested before the killings.  Hindman's answer NO. The Federal Court ruling affected the U.S. Wildlife Services not Maryland DNR.  Was there ever an environmental study conducted before or after the killing of the swans?  Hindman's answer was NO! 
Mute Swans were massacred, the nitrogen levels are still high, and taxpayers will spend more money to research and clean-up the actual cause that was erroneously attributed to Mute Swans.
Hindman presented another paper regarding the public's knowledge about the killings.  We surveyed 625 people.  Did more of the general public ever know Hindman was asked?  Hindman's response:  NO, We did not do any widespread information, kept it out of the media and away from the general public, got the endorsement of Governor Ehrlich. We did it under the radar, most people did not know how or what we were doing until it was over, we went in, did what we had to do and got out. Never announced and never appeared on 6:00 news. 
This is how the massacre vs management plan of Mute Swans began.  It is continuing today while being subsidized by the uninformed American taxpayer.
Finally: NY DEC's plan would propose:
 
Giving permits to private individuals to house the swans not killed and/or meat would be fed to the homeless:
 
In other states: this has meant that the Mute Swans have been given to permitted individuals who use them on their private property as canned hunts. 
 
Furthermore, Mute swans carry high levels of lead or copper poisoning as shown in research conducted by Schummer et.al, and our veterinary involvement/research with swans in Minnesota, NY and the United Kingdom. To feed the meat to anyone would cause potential liability on the part of the NY DEC and NY Taxpayer should future medical problems arise in individuals eating the meat from a Mute or other swan Therefore, the taxpayer needs to know that an outside laboratory will need to be paid to come in an test the carcasses for lead or other heavy metal poisoning before human consumption.  This test needs to be conducted by an outside laboratory to ensure that there is no bias. Taxpayers also need to know that in order to implement the eradication program, they must pay the US Wildlife Services to have their personnel come in and facilitate the eradication. (Bolin, S., 2014).
 
Currently, many states, including the NY DEC, Michigan, Maryland, etc., make it illegal to rescue, capture, treat, feed, rehabilitate or otherwise provide humane treatment or veterinary care for Mute Swans.  Veterinarians, wildlife facilities and rehabbers are threatened with fines, jail terms or loss of licensure if they treat an injured, ill or orphaned Mute Swan.  We find this extremely inhumane as any other waterfowl or wildlife species is afforded humane treatment and veterinary care in the event of illness or injury under Cruelty to Animal or wildlife laws.  So, in effect, by enforcing the non-treatment/rescue of Mute Swans, state wildlife officials are violating their own Cruelty to Animal or wildlife laws.


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