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Court Says States can Control Mute Swans

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ANNAPOLIS, Md., December 19, 2006 - Waterfowl and wetland habitat conservation achieved a major victory recently when the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited (DU), Safari Club International (SCI), and the state of Maryland’s ability to manage mute swans.

An animal-rights group challenged the 2004 Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act by claiming that the act did not exempt non-native wildlife, such as the mute swan. The group also claimed that mute swans were protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. DU and SCI intervened to help the federal government defend the case.

Mute swans are extremely destructive to sensitive wetland systems and other native wetland wildlife. They often are aggressive to nesting native waterfowl, driving them from protected coves and feeding areas. 

“The expert testimony provided by SCI, with assistance by DU, helped make sure that state wildlife agencies have the right to manage wildlife and their habitats against invasive and non-native species,” said DU Executive Vice President Don Young. “This reaffirms the role of professional wildlife management in protecting native waterfowl, migratory birds and wetlands.”

Maryland has wanted to control mute swans for several years because of their negative impacts on fish, shellfish, waterfowl and other key species in the Chesapeake Bay.

“We understand the concerns that some people have about reducing the mute swan population, but their long-term effects to Chesapeake Bay life are too damaging,” said Grace Bottitta, manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited’s Mid Atlantic Field Office in Annapolis, Md. “For instance, there’s competition for food and habitat between mute swans and our native tundra swan, which winter in the Chesapeake Bay.” 

Contact: Kelli Alfano
Public Affairs Coordinator
Ducks Unlimited
877/DU-GLARO or kalfano@ducks.org

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

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