Updated: Tuesday, 08 Feb 2011, 6:29 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 08 Feb 2011, 5:09 PM EST
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - For 45 years, wildlife biologist Joe Johnson has studied swans in Michigan. Retired now from the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, he believes the non-native mute swans are a nuisance and must be controlled.
"People have to understand that they are not native to North America," Johnson told 24 Hour News 8. "They were brought here from Europe in the 1800s as domesticated animals and they got away from us."
"They clearly compete with native wildlife for food and space and (have) a lot of conflicts with humans," Johnson said.
But it's the trumpeter swan that is the big loser if the population of mute swans is not controlled. Since 2006, the DNRE has been trying to control the explosion of mute swans.
They've tried to control them by destroying eggs and nests and by euthanizing birds found on public lands.
But now the agency wants licensed rehab facilities to stop helping and start killing any mute swans they take in. Statewide, that's an estimated 40 mute swans a year, the DNRE said.
Peg Markle runs the Wildlife Rehab Center on the northeast side of Grand Rapids. The thought of killing birds she's always helped doesn't sit well with her.
"We may no longer release swans that we take in into the wild," she told 24 Hour News 8, "and anything that we do take in we would have to euthanize, no matter of its mother was hit by a car and the ducklings were wandering the highway."
But the DNRE said it makes no sense to continue to rehab animals that are considered a nuisance. Their goal is to trim the mute swan population to around 2000 over the next 10 years.
A final decision on the plan is expected to come Thursday night at a DNRE meeting in Lansing.