Walk Cancellation

Tuesday, December 5, 2017,

The December 13th walk at West Meadow Beach has been cancelled. The town has temporarily closed West Meadow Beach due to an ongoing dredging project. Therefore, we will have to cancel our December 13th bird walk. At this time, the January 10th walk is still on – It is anticipated that the beach will be reopened sometime after January 1st. Check for updates on our Facebook page or on the website. JK

Four Harbors Audubon’s Response to the Latest Draft of the DEC’s Mute Swan Management Plan

Saturday, December, 2, 2017,

Please read Four Harbors Audubon’s letter to our local legislators concerning the latest DEC plan for management of Mute Swans. If you agree, we urge you to please contact your own local legislator and tell them how you feel. Thank you. JK

Mute Swans and the DEC Management Plan, Third Draft:

In November 2016, Governor Cuomo signed two bills into legislation, Assembly Bill 9289, and Senate Bill 6630, hereby establishing a moratorium on the DEC’s plan to declare mute swans a prohibited species.  The legislation required the DEC to comply with several features in drafting a new Plan, one of which was to hold at least two public hearings, another of which was to hold a public comment period of, at minimum, 45 days, with follow-up responses to “substantive public comments.”  In addition, the legislation required that the DEC “fully document the scientific basis for current and projected environmental damage”, and “fully document the scientific basis for future population projections”.  Furthermore, the DEC was required to “give priority to non-lethal management techniques” in management of mute swans.

The DEC released its Third Draft of Mute Swan Management in September 2017.

We are pleased that the DEC complied with the requirement to hold public hearings within the state following the release of this 3rd Draft. Three meetings were held during October 2017, in Milton, New Paltz, and Hauppauge.  We are also pleased the DEC complied with a 45-day comment period as stipulated in the legislation.

With respect to the “fully documented scientific basis”, the Draft was unfortunately remiss. The information provided was a reiteration of the original remarks and incomplete studies that brought concern and commentary among NYS residents to the last several Drafts, and prompted legislation three years in a row, in both the State Assembly and the State Senate.  The DEC’s release statement for the Third Draft indicated that there was “no need to duplicate those efforts”, referring to prior scientific studies. (See:http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7076.html)  The fact is, this was not a choice. Indeed, the legislation as signed by the Governor required a fully documented scientific basis, which to date had been lacking in the Mute Swans Management Plans.

Furthermore, we note a confusion over the DEC’s terminology of “non-lethal methods”, and we hereby request their further response to this matter.  The methods described over the course of the Draft include: 1- a culling of all viable eggs (through addling); 2- a removal of free-flying swans through harvest; 3- an elimination of mating pairs in captivity. Together, these amount to an eradication of the species over time in NYS.

In summation, we note discrepancies between the legislation signed into law by the Governor, November 2016, and the subsequent Draft issued by DEC, in September 2017.  For these reasons, the Four Harbors Audubon Society is opposed to Third Draft of the Mute Swan Management Plan.

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Please note: public commentary to the Draft is welcomed by DEC.  Please write to:  Bureau of Wildlife – Mute Swan Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754; or email: wildlife@dec.ny.gov (subject line: “Mute Swan Plan”).  The public comment period will close on December 13, 2017.