ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Monday signed a bill that will better protect mute swans after he vetoed similar measures the past two years.
Cuomo had maintained that the state Department of Environmental Conservation was already taking steps to monitor any killing of the mute swans, which had been deemed as an invasive species.
But he signed the latest version of the bill. His office said the DEC is doing what is essentially outlined in the bill.
Still, advocates of the measure declared victory after a battle with the state that dates backs to at least 2014 -- when the first bill was vetoed.
“The people have spoken, and I’m pleased that the governor has listened,” Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, D-Brooklyn, who sponsored the measure, said in a statement.
The new law will require a two-year moratorium on the DEC's plan to exterminate the state's mute swans by 2025 after declaring them a “prohibited species,” Cymbrowitz said.
The DEC will also have to hold at least two public hearings before finalizing any management plan for mute swans, as well as prioritizing "any non-lethal management techniques and include scientific evidence of projected and current environmental damage caused by the mute swan population."
The state is believed to have only about 2,200 mute swans, with some found in the Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes and in New York City.
Environmental and animal advocates have fought to preserve the large birds, leading the DEC in March 2015 to revise its mute swan management plan to limit their eradication.