Killer mute swans a problem in Michigan

A mute swan inhabits Tobico Marsh in Bay County.

The DNR says a species of swan called the mute swan is becoming a problem in Michigan.

Humans, as well as other wildlife, are faced with issues due to the mute swan.

In fact, The Chicago Tribune reported just two weeks ago that a man was killed by a mute swan.

He was kayaking, and the mute swan attacked him, flipping the kayak.

The swan continued to attack, and the man eventually drowned.

Fortunately we havenâ??t had something that devastating here in Mid-Michigan, but the swans do pose a problem.

Barry Sova, Wildlife Specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, says that jet skiers, boaters, and canoeists have been attacked by mute swans right here in Mid-Michigan.

The main threat is to Michiganâ??s native swan, the trumpeter swan. Mute swans are so aggressive and territorial that they drive trumpeter swans out of their native habit, stopping trumpeter swan reproduction.

Mute swans were brought to the United States from Europe in the late 1800s.

According to the DNR, the Michigan population has exploded from a single pair of swans brought to Charlevoix in 1913 to over 15,500 currently.

The population explosion is facilitated by two things.

First, there are very few predators, and of the seven eggs laid, five or six can make it to adults. The second factor is mute swans can live up to 16 years, producing offspring each year.

So the DNR is trying to reduce the population to 2000 mute swans in the next few years.

They employ a few techniques. One technique is to shoot adult swans.

Another technique is to oil the eggs in a nest.

Barry Sova says they take 100% food grade corn oil and coat the egg.

Then they place the oiled eggs back in the nest.

The mother will continue to sit on the eggs.

However, without oxygen getting into the egg, the egg wonâ??t hatch, and the mother will eventually abandon the nest.

She wonâ??t lay anymore eggs that season.

DNR officials say the policy to reduce the mute swan population has just recently been implemented, but is already having a positive impact on the native trumpeter swan. In Bay county they counted four trumpeter swans this year, and believe they are mating.

Trumpeter swan mating hasnâ??t happened in the past few years.