Support Federal Involvement in Mute Swan ManagementJuly 5th, 2012
As of June 4th, 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Wildlife Services (WS) released the most recent Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding Mute Swan Damage Management in Michigan. The Assessment was done in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the International Wildlife Refuge, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, and the U.S. Forest Service and in consultation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and various tribal interests.
Within the EA, USDA Wildlife Services lays out the background and reasons for Mute Swan Management, as well as four different alternatives for agency action. Wildlife Service has served as an integral part of assisting the Michigan DNR in its efforts to control the Mute Swan population, and this EA was done as a review of their current action plan. The EA proposes four alternative options:
1.) Continuing the current “Integrated Wildlife Damage Management” plan, that consists of both direct (lethal and non-lethal) management and technical assistance,
2.) Provide only technical assistance,
3.) Non-lethal and egg treatment only,
4.) No Federal Assistance.
Since the territorial and destructive nature of Mute Swans is well known, MUCC has taken the position that any and all assistance should be accepted in helping the MDNR control the population to its goal of fewer than 2,000 Mute Swans. For this reason, MUCC has submitted its public comment in support of Alternative 1. We believe that this alternative is best for several reasons – the most important being the overall comprehensiveness of the plan. Alternative 1 allows for all forms of management practices, including application of technology as well as lethal and non-lethal methods of management. This position has been supported by a recent resolution at MUCC’s 2012 Annual Convention (see AC100612).
By adopting any of the other alternatives, Wildlife Services would be decreasing its support for Michigan’s Mute Swan Management Plan. An aggressive and comprehensive plan is necessary to assist the MDNR in efficiently reaching its population goal of 2000 Mute Swans, and any level of assistance can only increase the efficacy of the plan. Furthermore, as the EA clearly explains, the comprehensive and more aggressive plan in Alternative 1 would lead to the best outcome for non-target species. This is because the deleterious effect that the Mute Swan population has on other species will be decreased as their population begins to be better managed.
Even though MUCC has already submitted its own public comment regarding the EA, we invite you to participate individually by submitting your own comments to Wildlife Services For more information regarding how to submit public comments, or to access the Pre-Decision EA, please visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/ws/ws_nepa_public_notice_MI.shtml. Comments can be submitted via mail or fax to:
State Director Pete Butchko
USDA APHIS Wildlife Services
2803 Jolly Rd., Suite 100
Okemos, MI 48864
Phone: (517) 336-1928
Fax: (517) 336-1934
Written comments can be sent to the above mailing address or sent by fax to the number listed. All comments must be received by close of business on July 9, 2012 in order to receive full consideration.