Tucked away on the west side of the small town of Broad Channel in the middle of Jamiaca Bay is a narrow, dead end, street that goes by the name of West 12th Road. Those of us who live there know that the nice part about living in a small town is that when you are not quite sure what is going on, someone else always does!
[Peter J. Mahon West 12th Road, Broad Channel]
Bird advocates are goosed up — and flying in different directions in response to a state plan to eliminate wild mute swans within the next decade.
Activist group GooseWatch NYC points to the plan, released last month by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, as an example of human meddling, almost implying the policy is downright anti-American.
“It’s similar to the immigrants that come into this country,” said Jeffrey Kramer, a GooseWatch NYC volunteer. “We’re very hostile to them.”
The president of a Prospect Park-based birdwatching club, on the other hand, counters that the lithe longnecks are a menace.
DOYLE MURPHY/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
David Karopkin, the 28-year-old founder of GooseWatch NYC, says a state proposal to wipe out New York's wild population of mute swans is unnecessary and wastes taxpayer dollars.
“They’re beautiful and everything, but they are damaging the environment,” said Brooklyn Bird Club President Robert Bate, who blames “wealthy one-percenters” for importing the European waterfowl in the first place.
The state agency called them an “invasive species,” and suggested banning their importation and destroying their eggs, killing some and keeping others in captivity.
The state estimates that about 2,200 mute swans now call New York home, down from a peak of 2,800 in 2008.
Birdwatchers count nine in Prospect Park, with larger flocks in Jamaica Bay and Sheepshead Bay.
Kramer compares the backlash against the graceful birds to that of a hostile majority of paranoid xenophobes.
GooseWatch NYC opposes a state plan to rid the state of wild mute swans by 2025.
“It’s like a little regiment up against a whole nation’s army is going to defeat them,” he says of the mute swans, whose numbers are too small, he says, to interrupt other species.
New York’s first mute swans were imported in the 1880s by aristocrats — who prized their graceful elegance. The white birds eventually spread from luxe estates in the Hudson Valley and Long Island to upstate lakes and New York City parks.
The state is accepting public comments on the plan through Feb. 21.
Bate, whose group supports the management plan, said it’s alarmist to imagine goose-stepping state officers traipsing around, gunning down birds.
Mute Swans are an “invasive species,” Brooklyn Bird Club President Robert Bate says, but Goosewatch NYC President David Karopkin disagrees.
The mute swans are what birders call “charismatic birds” — conspicuous, easily identifiable and beloved by the public.
That’s kept them safe from control efforts and made hunting them taboo.
“People don’t realize, but they’re actually quite good eating,” Bate said.
Kramer said the problems being associated with the swans are exaggerated, and says the solution can’t be to kill them or force them back into captivity.
“I don’t think we can just throw them away like a discarded toy,” Kramer said.