The New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to wipe out the mute swan population has hit a major roadblock: people like them. Months after announcing its intention to kill more than 2,000 swans by gassing them, shooting them, or oiling their eggs, on Monday, the department released a revised plan that instead asks the public to pay to manage the growing population.

According to the agency, swans are a threat to local aquatic life, push out other birds and are an “invasive, non-native” species. Since the 1970s, the population has grown from 500 to about 2,500; the original plan called for total annihilation of the breed by 2025. After receiving tens of thousands of complaints, however, the board scrapped the plan and came up with a new one.

“Complete elimination of mute swans from New York is not a viable option given the expressed public opinions associated with these birds,” reads the new report. Instead, it asks people to contribute to the upkeep the swans require. “Placement and proper care of swans in public parks or other controlled settings can be costly to local governments or communities, but if people who enjoy seeing mute swans are willing to support such programs, DEC will cooperate with those efforts.”

The issue is particularly hot in Sheepshead Bay, where swans are basically a local landmark. Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, who has led the fight against the DEC, remains underwhelmed by the new plan. Sheepshead Bites reports:

“This is not acceptable. DEC still hasn’t provided any additional evidence that mute swans pose a danger to other wildlife, people or the environment,” said Cymbrowitz. “And this insistence on making fiscally strapped municipalities responsible for managing the swan population humanely is a convenient way for DEC to justify killing the birds when localities fall short.”

(Photo: Ferran Turmo Gort)