New Rule Governs Release of Mute Swans

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The commission hopes a new regulation regarding mute swans will protect native waterfowl and vegetation. RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission hopes a new regulation concerning mute swans will protect the state’s native waterfowl and aquatic vegetation.

The law, effective July 1, makes it unlawful for an individual to release mute swans into public waters. It also requires individuals who release the swans into private waters to properly pinion them – trimming their wings to ensure they won’t relocate to public waters.

“By prohibiting the release of mute swans into the public waters of North Carolina, we believe that over the long-term, the likely negative impacts of mute swans to native aquatic vegetation and wildlife species will be minimized,” said Joe Fuller, the commission’s migratory game bird coordinator. “Furthermore, the required pinioning of mute swan released on private ponds will help ensure that these birds do not subsequently move from their release location.”

Indigenous to Europe and Asia, mute swans were introduced to North America and escaped into the wild in about 1910. In states with mounting numbers of the birds, evidence shows mute swans can harm submerged aquatic vegetation. In addition, the animals’ antagonistic behavior can displace native waterfowl, and there has been evidence of aggression toward humans.

While the exact number of mute swans in North Carolina is unknown, the commission suspects it is low compared to other states, and they have caused little impact. However, commission biologists believe the new rule will prevent future damage if the population grows.

For more information on North Carolina’s waterfowl, click here.