SANDY CREEK, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Many of you have reached out to the Your Stories team outraged over swans being killed in the Sandy Pond area, and this isn’t the first time the invasive species has been a hot topic.

NewsChannel 9 reached out to the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) and asked why the swans are being euthanized.

According to the DEC, Sandy Pond has experienced a significant increase in mute swans over the past few years. Multiple complaints over the swans negatively affecting both the wildlife and people who live and visit the area have been reported, according to the DEC.

However, not everyone believes the birds are detrimental to the area, including Terie Delahunt.

Delahunt’s husband’s family has lived in the Sandy Pond area since 1966. She and her husband are in the midst of building their retirement home there.

“The emotion is stemming from the fact that the swan population here is relatively new, within the last 4 to 5 years, and those of us who are property owners here have enjoyed their presence.”

TERIE DELAHUNT, SANDY POND NEIGHBOR

However, Delahunt and other neighbors along Sandy Pond are fighting for the swans to stay in the area.

In 2021, the DEC said documentation shows the swans harassed kayakers before actions were taken by the agency. Those new efforts include lethal and non-lethal control such as egg oiling to limit population growth and range expansion in the area.

Read the entire statement from the NYSDEC below:

Managing invasive species in New York State is a top priority to ensure the protection of public safety and the environment. Mute swans are a destructive invasive species that can be aggressive towards people, cause serious damage to aquatic habitats, degrade water quality, create potential hazards to aviation, displace native wildlife species and at-risk species, and threaten ecosystem integrity. To reduce the risks posed by these invasive pests, DEC experts carefully developed a science-based strategy to limit mute swan population growth and range expansion and is working with partners like the United States Department of Agriculture to implement a variety of conservation measures to achieve this goal.

Statement on Sandy Pond swans: NYSDEC

Neighbors on social media have expressed the birds are a beloved treasure, and Delahunt said the DEC’s approach should have been different.

“What is most upsetting to us is that we weren’t aware that this was going to occur, and so as a community, we want to be educated and we want to be a part of that decision.”

TERIE DELAHUNT, SANDY POND NEIGHBOR

Delahunt goes on to say, “I think that there are a lot of tourists, there are a lot of renters. There are a lot of transient boaters that come into this area where swans are novel to them, and they’re curious. So, they are invading their space and the swans are fiercely protective, as are humans. They don’t want them in their territory so they will be aggressive if they’re provoked. If they’re not provoked, they’ll be absolutely fine here for the rest of us.”

Mute swans in other states such as Maryland and Michigan have shown rapid growth from just a small number of birds to several thousand over time, according to the DEC.

In response to that research, the DEC told NewsChannel 9 it’s committed to preventing that growth from happening in Central New York and will continue to work the U.S. Department of Agriculture on conservation measures.

You can read more about the DEC’s mute swan management plan below:

If you have a question or story for the Your Stories team, call us at (315) 446-9900 or send an email to ‘yourstories@localsyr.com.’