Nuisance wildlife: swans as goose control

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

Nuisance wildlife control
experts in the upper midwest
report that mute swans may be the
best brake on the proliferation of
giant nonmigratory Canada geese.
Wildlife agencies in Atlantic coast
states from Rhode Island to Georgia
have practiced aggressive mute swan
“control” via egg-addling for about a
decade, after mute swan sightings
during the annual National Audubon
Society Christmas bird counts dou-
bled. Not noting that the number of
people out counting birds had also
doubled, the agencies warned that
the Atlantic coast was on the verge
of a mute swan population explo-
sion, 150 years after they were first
imported from England; blamed
swans for causing the decline of
heavily hunted migratory waterfowl;

and in Connecticut, where Friends
of Animals has repeatedly blocked
attempts to start egg-addling, have
even warned that the swans might
kill small children. The control
efforts have coincided, however,
with an actual population explosion
of the giant geese, hybrids of
domestic geese and wild Canada
geese, who were bred for use as live
decoys until the late 1950s, when
the use of live decoys was banned
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. The larger swans limit
goose numbers by driving geese
away from food handouts and prime
nesting spots. Illinois mute swan
breeder Roswell DeDeusen now
sells about 50 pairs of swans per
year to golf courses and other busi-
nesses that have goose problems.
The California Department
of Fish and Game has ordered the
Los Angeles Animal Regulation
Department and the Los Angeles
county Animal Care and Control
department to cease relocating rac-
coons and opossums to the Los
Padres National Forest, to avoid
disrupting the forest ecology.
During the past fiscal year, the city
moved 1,778 opposssums and 284
raccons; the county handled 238
raccoons and 209 opossums.
The New York state leg-
islature on March 31 allocated
$100,000 to study the use of contra-
ceptives to control deer overpopula-
tion in residential areas.
Tucson lost $70,000 last
year in two personal injury law-
suits filed by people who stepped in
ground squirrel holes at Reid
Park––so, failing to flood the squir-
rels out of their burrows, city risk
management director Terry Ander-
son is trying to kill them with a
slow-acting poison––slow to insure
that they get back underground
before they die, to avoid upsetting
the public. This Terry Anderson is
apparently not to be confused with
Minnesota humane officer Terry H.
Anderson, who raised eyebrows in
1990 with a public defense of
leghold trapping and fur farming.
The British Forestry
Commission is urging the public to
trap and poison grey squirrels.
Imported from the U.S. and intro-
duced during the 19th century, grey
squirrels have displaced native red
squirrels, reaching a density of up to
15 per acre in some areas; are blamed
for doing $7.5 million worth of dam-
age each year to British woodlots,
killing up to 70% of some species of
thin-barked tree; and allegedly eat
nesting songbirds. Grey squirrels do
raid birds’ nests. Otherwise, the BFC
has not explained how it happens that
grey squirrels have no such effects
upon American woodlands, where
they are not only equally plentiful but
also are credited with helping forests
to regenerate by hiding nuts and then
losing them.
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