ALBANY -- Sen. Tony Avella and animal-rights activists are raising concerns over the state's most recent plans to protect mute swans.
The Queens senator, who has fought to save the majestic birds, said the efforts from the state Department of Environmental Conservative have fallen short of a law passed last year to use caution in how the swans are treated, citing an environmental group's recent report that questioned the negative impacts of the swans.
“According to this Hudsonia report, the DEC’s proposed Mute Swan Management Plan is not up to par with the standards set forth in my legislation and lacks true scientific evidence,” Avella said in a statement. “I find the DEC’s handling of this process shameful."
The last flap comes after years of deliberations over how to address the growing mute-swan population in parts of New York City, the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes. While striking, the mute swans are invasive, state officials contended.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed two versions of bills passed by the state Legislature in 2014 and 2015, saying the DEC would take the concerns into account as it developed any eradication plan.
But Cuomo did sign a law last year that ordered the DEC to launch a plan to control the mute-swan population and document the scientific basis for future population projections.
The law also requires the DEC to demonstrate any environmental impacts the swans may have, such as their threat to aquatic vegetation.
The DEC said the latest criticisms are unfounded. Its latest plan was released in September and is open to public comment through Dec. 13.
"The proposed mute swan management plan does not seek to eliminate mute swans in New York, but rather stabilize mute-swan populations, limit range expansion and mitigate the potential negative impacts of mute swans on people and the environment," the agency said in a statement.
"This draft plan was developed following extensive research and using the latest available data."
The latest plan would allow for a limited number of mute swans to stay in upstate and makes no major reduction in the population downstate.
According to the DEC’s plan, mute swans are the largest birds in New York with a wingspan of about seven feet.
Still, the report commissioned by advocates by Hudsonia, a Dutchess County-based group, contended that the swans aren't as invasive as some officials suggest.
The Hudsonia report said mute swans consume between 3.7 and 4 pounds of food daily, which is much less than the DEC estimated, and contended the birds have less of an effect on submerged aquatic plants than fish do.
For more information on the DEC's mute-swan management plan or to comment, visit: www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7076.html