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DNR Secretary Franks Issues Statement Regarding Today’s Mute Swan Decision

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.




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