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Swan Be Gone In Massapequa

A plan by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to eliminate mute swan populations in the state is causing a stir among animal activists and residents alike.

The plan, dubbed the Mute Swan Management Plan by the DEC, calls the swans “a non-native, invasive species, brought to North America from Eurasia for ornamental purposes in the late 1800s.” The DEC plan supports actions to “eliminate free-ranging mute swans from New York by 2025.”

The DEC plan goes on to say “mute swans can cause a variety of problems, including aggressive behavior towards people, destruction of submerged aquatic vegetation, displacement of native wildlife species, degradation of water quality, and potential hazards to aviation.”

But Massapequa resident Gary Rogers of the Nassau County SPCA and the county’s coordinator for prevention of cruelty to animals slammed the plan, saying it calls for the indiscriminate and unjustifed lethal removal of a majestic animal that has become part of the island’s natural beauty.

“I have no idea why they would want to remove these animals. I have been involved with animals on Long Island for almost 30 years and I don’t know of any swan attacks on a person who was not harrasing them or their young,” said Rogers. “These animals have been here since the 1800s and they have assimilated into the environment. Humans have done far more damage to the environment than these birds.”

The DEC states that studies show swans have displaced other natural wildlife, including native fish and birds. The department also said mute swans “can significantly damage water quality, as their feces contain e. coli.”

“The most effective way to address those concerns is to work toward a gradual reduction of the wild mute swan population,” said a DEC spokesperson. “Our plan, which would allow people to enjoy these birds through responsible private ownership, is more balanced and comprehensive than many critics have suggested, and we encourage everyone to read the plan, as well as a report we prepared on mute swans in New York, before rejecting it outright.”

The DEC said residents can read the full plan at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/muteswanreport.pdf.

“The plan includes important strategies for preventing population growth and specific controls to allow mute swans to be taken from the wild and turned over to responsible owners,” the DEC spokesperson continued. “This is an important component of the plan.”

However, Massapequa residents would prefer to see the animals stay in the neighborhood, particularly in the Massapequa Preserve, where Angela Bierwruth often observes the winged-creatures floating peacefully in a pond.

“I think it’s horrible to consider ousting the swans. I’ve been coming to the preserve for years and I’ve never once seen, or been exposed to, an aggressive swan,” she said. “They’re always peaceful and keep to themselves. If anything, I keep hearing stories about kids trying to harm the swans...they are creatures of nature, and this is a nature preserve. It’s their home. They belong here, far more than we do.”

The Nassau County SPCA noted the DEC’s claim that the swans are aggressive and they displace other species is an exaggerated account of the animals’ behavior and their interaction with the environment.  

“There are ways of controlling a species’ population without eradicating them,” said Rogers, who often goes to the Massapequa Preserve for a natural recharge. “You lose these animals, you lose the beauty of nature. You remove this animal, then which animal is next? Are you going to remove all the animals so that you can build houses on the preserve?”

Rogers said the SPCA strongly urges the DEC to focus on non-lethal, humane techniques to control any problems allegedly caused by the mute swan population. And that population, according to Rogers, is very small in Massapequa.

The real problem, Rogers said, is that people visiting lakes and ponds need to understand when to leave these animals alone.

“These animals become aggressive when you threaten their young; just like any other animal or any human,” he said. “The best way to coexist with these animals is to leave them alone. You are not helping them by feeding them bread.”

The DEC is now accepting public comments to its mute swan proposal through Feb. 21 by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by mail at NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.

News

Two hundred business students from high schools across Nassau County, including Massapequa High School, competed for scholarships and cash awards—more than $33,000 in all—from various sponsors at Nassau County’s annual Comptroller’s Entrepreneurial Challenge.

The events on Sept. 11, 2001 had a profound effect on nearly all in the tri-state area, but for first responders, the effects were overwhelming. Long-time Massapequa resident Michael Smith, a member of the New York Fire Department, experienced those effects firsthand.

“While I’ve always been a person that could appreciate life, after 9/11 I became so distraught,” he said. “I realized I need to do something I want to do — something I love to do.”

A 30-year veteran of the fire department, Smith retired in 2002. He and his wife of 33 years, Teresa, began to look for a place they could enjoy life. This mindset brought them to the East End of Long Island, where they often went for day trips. They settled down in a home in Orient Point in 2004; in a home that needed quite a bit of work. And when it was time to landscape the property, a new idea took root — a vineyard.


Sports

Massapequa athletes recently received honors from their coaches at Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Each season, the coaches of all of the Kellenberg teams choose one member of their team who stands out as an athlete that has worked hard to improve themselves in their chosen sport.

The Farmingdale State women’s lacrosse team won the first game of their Spring Break trip to North Carolina with a victory over Greensboro College. In wet and muddy conditions, the Rams (8-1) held an 8-5 lead at the half and took the eventual 13-10 win.

In the first half and tied 2-2, the Pride (7-5) pulled ahead 4-2 with two unassisted goals by junior attack Nadya Fedun. Farmingdale State answered with four straight scores for a 6-4 advantage, on goals by juniors Alyssa Handel, Nicole Marzocca and Massapequan Jackie Kennedy.

Sophomore attack Ashlynn Parks put Greensboro within a goal at the 7:03 mark, but the Rams scored two more to lead 8-5 at the halftime break.

Calendar

Free Wine Tasting

Friday, April 18

Boating Course

Saturday, April 26

Massapequa Memories

Tuesday, April 29



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