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Ok, I was wondering if anyone else noticed that our mallard numbers are way down in SE MI, so I could offer my opinion of the reason for this. Here goes: the exploding population of EXOTIC MUTE SWANS is killing our local mallards here in SE MI !! Has anyone else noticed the explosion in numbers of these English Mute Swans ( i.e., feral, exotic, not protected under Federal Waterfowl management laws) here in SE MI ?? These are very aggressive birds and are proven to be so to other species of waterfowl attempting to nest in their territory, which results in a huge decrease in nesting success for hen mallards in SE MI. The great state of Virginia recognized the problem with the population explosion of these birds on the Chesapeake Bay over 10 years ago, and have enacted major control programs to reduce and inhibit the spread of these unwanted exotics.

They are very easy to identify and distinguish from other swans (English Mute Swans all have a large black cere, or mound, on top of their bill and forehead, which is lacking in other species like the Tundra or the native Trumpeter <endangered> swans). In addition, they are the only ones nesting in SE MI during the breeding season (June-August), except for maybe one or two pairs of the endangered Trumpeter Swans found in the Waterloo State Game Areas environs. The Trumpeter is very vocal, where the Mute is mostly silent, hence the names. By contrast, the Tundra, or "Whistler" Swan, migrate through this area in great numbers in the Spring and Fall on their way to and from their nesting areas in the tundra areas of this hemisphere, and don't nest at all in SE MI.

The English Mute is nesting on most, if not all, bodies of water now in SE MI, and is not only disrupting the native waterfowl nesting but also is destroying native aquatic vegetation. Don't just take my word for it, Google "English Mute Swan" and Chesapeake Bay Virginia, and see for yourselves. This is a huge problem for our watershed, waterfowl, and aquatic habitats that our DNR chooses to ignore rather than confront.
Talk with other members and with anyone you know who is active in DU; let's get something going in this state to eliminate these vermin from our waters and protect our native waterfowl and aquatic habitats.

JB

PS. if anyone would like to take an air tour of SE MI and do a count of breeding pairs of these birds this Spring, 2010, please send me a private Email message and I'll let you ride right seat in my Piper Archer. I'd like to write an article for the local papers and submit photographic proof of the extent of the problem.
 

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they are a big problem but i do believe they my be federally protected as of now. i talked to a co a few years ago he said i could get my self in big trouble if i put boom stick to um.
 

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huge decrease in nesting success for hen mallards in SE MI.
Source please? I hate them as much as the next guy, but never have seen anything published locally on this matter.

Honestly, i saw more mallards in early goose than i have ever seen before since living in MI (nothing since then). I would like to think they are local birds.
 

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Source please? I hate them as much as the next guy, but never have seen anything published locally on this matter.

Honestly, i saw more mallards in early goose than i have ever seen before since living in MI (nothing since then). I would like to think they are local birds.
mute swans absolutely decimate breeding ducks...they will overtake an area and beat the crap outa anything nesting in the vicinity. have 3-4 areas up here that have this issue on the flats. Michigan dnr is aware and has taken steps to handle this situation. Unfortunately I don't think you will ever see public hunting of them here as i think we are a trumpeter migration state??? or something like that.
 

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Tundra Swan snack sticks are pretty good. I wonder how good Mute sticks would be?



I would have no problem donating some steel out of the end of my supermag for the cause.
 

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If the animal in question is one that regularly appears as a decorative item in a wedding, then it won't ever be acceptable to MI non-hunters to allow a season for it. So it went with doves, and so it is with swans (see the top decoration on many wedding cakes).

So a control program is possible with Federal or state agents trapping adults, oiling eggs, etc., but don't even think about the possibility of an open season for hunters to harvest those big, white, graceful, beautiful, gentle, peaceful, birds. ;) Oh yeah, and it's so cute when the little baby swans ride on the backs of the mother and father swans...how could anybody want to shoot something so cute?:xzicon_sm
 

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Only good thing about the Mutes is on Americas Funniest Videos. Guy walks up with bread to feed swan and swan pecks the guy in the nuts. One cant help but laugh.
 

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If I was a bettin' man, I'd say a mute tag is in our not so distant future. Just a hunch;)
 

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we don't need a hunting season for them, we need a spring decimation season. they became federally un-protected a couple years ago - fed left it up to the states on how to manage them. You can go out and get nuisance permits now - i don't think its too easy - but never the less.....

we need year round open season, no limit, mandatory check-in of birds (to keep people from shooting trumpeters). pile 'em high until there's no more left.
 

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Quit shooting seagulls......
 

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The DNR has been pro-active on mutes for years now. All Wildlife and Law Personnel and permitted to shoot mute swans on State Owned Lands and It Occurs rather frequently at times. I know for 100% sure that they have been depopulated at several State Game Areas, including Shiawassee, Pointe Mouillee, Allegan, Waterloo, and Others. There have been many inland lakes that have taken action as well. The biggest drawback from the Public's Perception is that contrary to a goose program, the Mutes are not to be put in check, nests oiled, hazed, etc. It is either, leave them alone or kill them...No in between. Despite the DNR having the power to depopulate them on State Lands, for OBVIOUS reasons, discretion still has to be used.

Permits are also readily available and the application process is not complicated.

You can get a permit if:

1. 70% of property owners on a body of water sign a document agreeing to the destruction of mutes.

2. You are the sole owner of a marsh or body of water and agree to lethal control.

This permit can be applied for through any DNR Operation Service Center, Takes about 10 minutes to fill out and is relatively easy to attain especially for someone who owns an entire body of water. I know, one of my best friends has been a permit holder in Barry County for about 6 months now for his 20 acre Marsh.

To my knowledge, mutes are federally de-listed and are not protected under the migratory bird act. They are also listed in the Wildlife Conservation Order as a Nuisance Specie and are listed as an Invasive Specie. There are just too many un-educated people looking from the outside in that are resistant to them being de-populated.

At CWAC this year, a presentation was in fact given by the Michigan DNR to the CWAC Committee calling for a committee to be formed to further and more aggressively address Mute Swans, so for the original poster, be educated before you make false claims. DU hasn't done any control on Mute Swans nor any studies so calling DU to arms is way off, it has all been done via State and Federal agencies and some Universities whom have conducted studies.

And as was stated earlier, a Mute Swan tag of some sort may very well be in store in the distant future...Not saying a hunting tag or permit, but rather a Depopulation Tag/Permit. And to anyone that thinks a Mute stays "Mute" has obviously never sat on a lake when its quiet and listened to the sound they make, the Pen and Cob are very vocal back and forth.

PS, I didn't use wikipedia for the answer, rather here are some photos from a Mute Swan Study I worked on for Southern Illinois University, examining Territory, aggression, social interaction, and Submerged Aquatic vegetation impacts...







 

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Tundra Swan snack sticks are pretty good. I wonder how good Mute sticks would be?



I would have no problem donating some steel out of the end of my supermag for the cause.
Probably taste similar to Snow Owl snack sticks but still think that Manitee jerky is better!!!:yikes::yikes::yikes:
 

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They are mean as heck. There were some nesting in crow island a few years back, one of them almost flipped our 12ft boat.
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
OK, I got what I was looking for: enlightened. Thanks for the great reply post, and professional advice on how the state is dealing with the Mute problem alongside private property owners. I'd like to speak directly with you on the "aquatic vegetative impacts" that you studied in S. Illinois. Please send me your cell ph number, privately, and I'll call you some time this week. Thanks again.

JB
 

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BigR
Great post.
I will pass on the permit info to several land owners who are fed up with these beasts.
 

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The study is still in the process of being published, however when I worked on it, I logged well over 300 hours of observation on Banner Marsh and Spring Lake in Illinois (Nearest town of Havana). We were doing territory mapping, GPS-ing all swan nests, GPS-ing all known goose/duck nests, and conducting several hours of observation on swans interacting with swans, swans interacting with waterfowl, and swans interacting with anything else including humans.

We had set up 20 vegetative exclosures that we designed to keep Mute Swans Out, but allow for Ducks and Geese to swim in to feed. We randomly selected 10, selected 10 in areas of maximum SAV (submerged aquatic vegeation), and then had 10 control sites with no barrier.

The biomass was measured at each of these sites to obviously compare what kind of impact the mutes had on the native vegetation, primarily elodea, coontail, and a couple others. When considering Mute swans eat roughly 8 pounds of aquatic vegeation a day and you get huge non-breeding flocks of them in one spot, its safe to say they can have devastating and long-lasting effects on native vegetation.

As far as interactions, it was funny...

We must have surveyed over 500 people in Central Illinois while working and nearly all of them had a Mute Swan aggression story. Whether it be an attack, encounter, interaction, etc. BUT, the best part was none of the claims never happened to them, but instead they knew of someone getting attacked. Between myself and my partner, we observed over 600 hours that spring/summer, during fishing tourneys, bird watchers, boaters, jet skiers, you name it and never once recorded a mute swan strike against a human, nor ourselves.

We were capturing mute swans (50 of them total) and collaring them as you see from the pictures and were using primarily a normal old salmon net. We would attempt to get between them and their cygnets or sneak up to them sleeping and net them, they were nothing but big babys, all bark and no bite as long as you got their wings under control.

As far as interactions with other birds, it was interesting...There were 2 definite peaks when they showed aggression and HIGH aggression. One was during the initial establishment of the nest and egg laying and the other was within the first few days of the cygnets hatching. At those times, the Pen (male) would literally attack anything in site or at least attempt to run it off. Whether it be another swan, goose, pelican, heron, duck, or boat. Outside of those windows, we had pictures of geese and swans nesting side by side, duck nests on mute swan mounds, ducks standing on mute swans backs, and more. BUT, during the critical 2 peaks, they were running everything off that moved.

So there in lies the biggest 2 issues to me...

1. Their impact on SAV, with wetland loss, food loss, etc., do migrating waterbirds (not just waterfowl) and aquatic insects and mammals, really need any more help in losing submerged aquatic vegetation?

2. What is a suitable number of duck, goose, shorebird, waterbird nesting failures to be o--k?

In some people's eyes from an invasive species perspective, the answer should be/is Zero losses should be tolerated.

Down in the the Illinois River Valley where Waterfowl is king (Peoria, Pekin, Havana), they have zero tolerance for them, HOWEVER, Illinois is one of a few states that has zero power due to their legislation to do ANYTHING about them, their DNR and Natural History Survey have battled to get that addressed.

Mute Swans FIRST showed up to Spring Lake and Banner Marsh of Central Illinois in 1999--4 Birds

Spring of 2008--300 birds (180 nonbreeders, mutes typically don't breed until year 3 or 4).

Some may argue "they are filling a niche", but at what cost?
Pheasants were an exotic specie, introduced from China that has caused alot of damage to nesting songbirds due to parasatizing the nest, but people have seemed to tolerate and cherish them very well (playing devils advocate here).

However, the un-educated, non-outdoors, public perceives Mute Swans as a symbol of love, tranquility, beauty; when in fact they don't know the real facts behind Mute Swans.

I think the first plan of action if someone wanted to attempt to spearhead it, is that there needs to be education amongst the Outdoors and Non-Outdoors user groups of Mutes, Trumpeters, and Tundras, the natural history of Mutes, impacts that have been proven, and education of the fact that their numbers are much above what the tolerable threshold should be. Not saying there ever should be or will be a Mute Swan season, BUT, if the DNR, stakeholders, Lake associations, etc. want to be proactive and cull the problem, then the shock to the public needs to be as minimal as possible.

In Maryland it was easy for them to become proactive when it was discovered of the number of baby blue crabs that were being eaten by Mutes (the symbol of Chesapeake Bay, how dare they!). I think if the Mutes in Michigan can be associated with something familiar to everyone, then it can be more socially acceptable to depopulate them.

Finally, its amazing to me how Lake Associations are so up in arms over Canada geese and go to great measures to remove them, round them up, oil nests, etc. for no other reason than them defecating on their lawn, but kill a Mute Swan due to them causing a local crash in a bird population or vegetation community, HEAVEN'S NO!
 

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BigR
Great post.
I will pass on the permit info to several land owners who are fed up with these beasts.
Read my last post, it should shed a little more light on them too.

No problem at all on that, like I say, just tell them to contact the nearest DNR Operation Service Center and tell them that they will need to speak to someone from the Wildlife Division, preferably a Biologist (as thats who will issue it or the management unit supervisor). They basically just need to ask for a Mute Swan Removal Permit Application and Forms and obviously, they need to be clear to act as if they are doing it for the good of the environment and conservation, not to see how cool it would be to fold one and watch it splash in the water.;)
 
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