Chicago-area caretaker is first known mute swan attack death
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2012:
CHICAGO–Anthony Hensley, 37, on April 14, 2012 drowned at the Bay Colony Drive condominium complex in an unincorporated part of Cook County, Illinois, near Des Plaines, west of Chicago.
Employed for about 10 years by Knox Swan & Dog LLC, a Great Barrington firm that deploys mute swans and dogs to deter nonmigratory Canada geese, Hensley was rushed by a mute swan while making a routine check on the swans in his care.
“Witnesses told police that Hensley, a Villa Park father with two young daughters, drowned after he was attacked by a nesting swan, causing his kayak to topple,” reported Jennifer Delgado and
Joseph Ruzich of the Chicago Tribune. “The bird continued to lunge at him aggressively as he struggled to make it to shore before disappearing under the water, authorities said.” An experienced kayaker and strong swimmer, Hensley was weighed down when his heavy clothing and boots became waterlogged, his father Raymond Hensley told CBS Chicago.
State agencies engaged in trumpeter swan restoration have for more than 30 years advocated eradicating mute swans as an alleged “invasive species” that competes with trumpeter swans for habitat.
Claims have been made for about 25 years that mute swans might harm humans, but Field Museum senior conservation ecologist Doug Stotz told the Chicago Tribune that he was unaware of any previous fatal attacks.
Exempted since 2004 from protection by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, mute swans are classified as not native to North America despite considerable evidence to the contrary assembled by
Save The Mute Swans founder Kathryn Stillwell Burton. Burton points in particular toward fossil evidence that mute swans have lived in North America for at least 9,500 years, and toward the appearance of a mute swan in a 1585 watercolor by John White, one of the first artists to illustrate the wildlife of North America. The painting was mislabeled a trumpeter swan until Burton pointed out that it includes unique features of mute swans.