ANNAPOLIS, MD (September 9, 2003) - Maryland Department of Natural
Resources C. Ronald Franks issued a statement today after the U.S.
District Court’s decision to grant the Fund For Animals a preliminary
injunction enjoining the department from removing 525 swans from the
population before the end of the calendar year.
The decision can be found at
“This is an unfortunate but hopefully temporary setback in our
efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay,” Secretary Franks said. “As long
as this feral mute swan population is allowed to continue its astounding
growth rate, we will be severely hampered in our efforts to protect
native wildlife and restore the aquatic grass beds of the Chesapeake. I
am disappointed, but in no way deterred from this critical element of
our Chesapeake Bay restoration effort.”
Mute swans, large, aggressive birds native to Asia, were introduced
into the Chesapeake Bay when five pet swans escaped from a Talbot County
estate in the early 1960's. Since their release the population has
doubled more than nine times to about 3,600 today. Mute swans feed
exclusively on submerged aquatic vegetation, the basis for much of the
life in the Chesapeake estuary. The largest and most aggressive
waterfowl in the Chesapeake region, mute swans have driven at least one
threatened native bird species from its last nesting grounds in
Maryland's Chesapeake Bay and harmed other species of native wildlife.
The court has set a hearing date of Sept. 17 to determine a schedule
for its consideration of the merits of the case.