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Responsible Ownership of Captive Mute Swans

January 20th, 2015 | Posted by LadyNerkle1 in Responsible Ownership of Captive Mute Swans

Responsible Ownership of Captive Mute Swans


Pennsylvania Mute Swans

 Click Images to Enlarge

My Goal is to Encourage Owners and Breeders of Captive Mute Swans
in Pennsylvania to be Responsible with their Mute Swans, so our State can
Avoid the Pennsylvania Game Commission Imposing Strict Regulations
or a Prohibition of Mute Swans in Pennsylvania.

Captive Mute Swans

Keeping Captive Mute Swans on Private Property will
Benefit all who Enjoy Having or Visiting these Graceful Swans.
In Pennsylvania Privately owned Mute Swans
are considered Exotic Domestic Poultry – they are Captive Pets.
There are No Current Restrictions for Owning, Buying,
Selling or Breeding Mute Swans in Pennsylvania.

Assorted Swans

If each Captive Mute Swan Owner and Breeder will Practice Responsible Care
to Prevent their Adult Mute Swans or Mute Cygnets from Leaving the Safety
of their Private Property, then a Feral Population will not become Troublesome
for PAGC WaterFowl Management.

Mute Swan Owners will Help Prevent the Feral Problems Experienced by Neighboring States.

Pennsylvania Mute Swans
To Prevent Mute Swans from Leaving Private Property
it is Important Mute Swans are Rendered Incapable of Flight.

Pennsylvania Mute Swans

The Surgical Pinioning of the Distal Section of ONE Wing
is a Permanent Way to Prevent Swans from Flying.
Swan Cygnet Pinioned             Mute Swan Cygnet Pinioned at 5 Days Old. 

The Easiest and Least Traumatic Time for the Swans to have this Procedure done
is during the First 10-14 Days after a Cygnet Hatches.
Pinioned Swan Cygnets

This should be done by an Avian Veterinarian
or Someone who is Knowledgeable of this Procedure.

Clipping Mute Swan Cygnet

Clipping Primary Flight Feathers of ONE Wing will Temporarily Ground
a Full-Winged Swan until their Next Moult.

Mute Swan Moulting
Clipping Newly Emerged Flight Feathers is Risky while they are “Blood Feathers.”
It is Safer to Wait until the Feathers Blood Vessels Atrophies.
It is Easy to Put-off Clipping just a little TOO Long.
Your Swan May Simply Fly Off Never to Return.

Mute Swans FlyingOn Cool, Breezy Spring and Fall Days Swans have the Urge to Fly.  

Captive Mute Swans
Finding New Homes for Mute Swan Cygnets and/
or Rehoming an Adult Mute Swan is the Responsibility of the Current Owner.

Pennsylvania Mute Swans

No Mature Mute Swan or Mute Cygnet should be Release to Public Lands or Public Waterways
to Live in the Wild as Feral Swans.

This Young Swan was LUCKY… He has been Rescued by Kind Folks.
Mute Swan Cygnet
In Pennsylvania Feral Mute Swans will be Remove
from Public Lands and Waterway by Hunters.

Discarded Pet Mute Swan

We Tried Over and Over to Catch this Female Mute Swan – NO Luck.
Discarded Pet Mute Swan

       This Gentle Female Mute Swans was Shot September 2008.

PAGC 2014-15 Please Be Aware Your Swans and Cygnets are NOT Safe 
If they Leave Your Property. 

As more and more States are Restricting Ownership, Requiring Permits
or simply Prohibiting Mute Swans in their States,
Finding new Homes for Mute Cygnets is becoming a Challenge..

Pennsylvania Mute Swans
Pinioned Mute Swans are much Easier to Rehome – Adopt to New Homes.
Done properly Addling or Culling/Spoiling Swan Eggs
– Treating the Eggs to Prevent them from Hatching, will Reduce the Need
to find New Homes for the First Year Cygnets – 8 to 10 months old.
It is Important to Learn to do this Properly.

Spoil Swan Eggs

Allow the Female Mute Swan to “Sit” on her (Spoiled) Eggs for a Total of 42 Days,
then Remove them.  The 42 Days started when the Pen Starts to “Sit” Full Time.

Mute Swan Spoil Eggs

If you Take the Eggs Away TOO soon, the Female will Recycle and Lay another Clutch of Eggs.

Consider REPLACEMENT EGGS if you do not want Swan EGGs to Hatch.

This way Your Swans will not be “Sitting” on Rotting Eggs.

Nesting Mute Swan

Mute Swan Nesting
Consider Same Gender Pairs.

Same Sex Male Mute Swans
Instead of having a Breeding Pair, consider same Gender Swans.
Two Females are Good Company for each other.

Sister Mute Swans

Spoil Swan Eggs
Female Pairings will need to “Sit”on their Nests of Unfertile Eggs for 42 Days
and then be Taken Off the Eggs.

Nesting Sister Swans

Female Swans without a Male to Protect them are MORE Vulnerable
during the Time they “Sit” on their Nests.

Having an Island for them to Nest on will Keep them Safer..
NO Island !
Consider a Floating Nesting Platform 



Same Sex Male Swans

Two Nest Mate Males will often Live Peacefully Together.
They will Build and Sit on a Nest, NO Eggs to Spoil…or Protect.

Male Swan Nest

Male Swan Nesting
Not Grounding Cygnets can have Tragic Results.
Young Swan Cygnets Flying about may cause Accidents
by Landing on Highways Scaring Motorists.

Swan Cygnet Hit by Car

Swans and Cygnets’ Wide Wing Span can cause Electric Cable Injuries. (???)Electrocuted Swan Cygnet
Swans can also become Severely Injured Flying into Fences.

Fence by Pond

Some PA Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility
will take in Injured or Wayward Mute Swans.
They are not Native Birds Covered by the Rehabber’s License.
The PA Licensed Rehabber May Not Release Rescued Mute Swans to the Wild..
A Few will try to Find Private Property Homes for Full-Wing Swans.
Sadly, Many of these Full-Wing Swans Simply Fly Away.. In Trouble Again.

Feral Mute Swan

Mute Swans Related Calls to the PAGC will Result
in the 
Euthanasia of Many Feral Mute Swans.
Feral Mute Swan

PAGC will not Rescue Wayward, Ill or Injured Mute Swans.
Nor will they Arrange for them to be Placed in a New Home.
Injured Mute SwansIt is Sad to know these Wayward Swans will be Destroyed
through No Fault of their own.
An Alternative to Owning Mute Swans
Consider Native Trumpeter Swans…

Trumpeter Swan Family

Information about Owning Trumpeter Swans.

Trumpeter Swan Society – Plymouth, MN

The Successful Recovery of Wild Trumpeter Swan Populations to Mid-West
North America is a Conservation Success Story attributed to coordinated
Captive Breeding and Reintroduction Programs overseen by
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
managed through State and Federal Wildlife Agencies.

Trumpeter Swan

Nesting Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swan Captive Breeding Programs.

There are several Website that have information
about Trumpeter Swan Restoration Programs..


Rescue Mute Swan

Feral Mute SwanIf you know of a Wayward Mute Swan that needs Rescued,
Please Contact me.. We will try to help.. if Possible.
Thank You – Linda M.Sweger   StarBug@comcast.net
Camp Hill, PA 17011 (717) 732-6216


Below is Reference Material I have been using for Information.
Doing an Internet Search may have more Current Information.
Feral Mute Swans

The Mute Swan Management Plans Across the United States
are Changing every Year State by State.
There will be more Current Information on

PAGE:  Where to Find Mute Swan Information for Your State.

Pennsylvania River

PAGE: Current Status of Mute Swans in Pennsylvania
is not Constructed as of January 2017

Pennsylvania River

PAGC – State Wildlife Management Agency 2010
Information from the Waterfowl Management Specialist.

In Pennsylvania, there was/is no Formal Mute Swan Eradication Program,
Mute Swans that turned up on Public Lands are often Destroyed,
and State Law followed the MBTA in Classifying them as Unprotected.

Mute Swan Females

In effect, they could be taken without a Permit at any Time, for any Reason, by just about anyone.

Mute Swan Females

A Photographer Posted Images of these Female Swans on the Internet.
Two Days later Hunters with a Boat and Dogs Arrived at this River Access and Shot them.

The Current PAGC Policy for Control of Feral Mute Swans is:

Pennsylvania allows Feral Mute Swans to be Shot by Hunters.
Hunters SHOULD NOT be Destroying Swans on Private Property.

Feral Mute Swans
Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association

Feral Mute Swans
Mute Swans are Considered an Invasive Species in the State of Pennsylvania.
The PAGC Recommends that the Feral Swans be Removed at any Opportunity.
There is No Closed Season and they may be Taken at any Time on
Public Lands or Water Ways.
Feral Mute Swans

This is taken from the 2009 PAGC Mute Swan Update
2009 PAGC State Mute Swan Update.html

In 2003 the Atlantic Flyway Council Adopted a Mute Swan Management Plan
with the Goals of Reducing Mute Swan Populations in their Flyway
to Levels that will Minimize Negative Impacts on Wetland Habitats and
Native Waterfowl, and Preventing Range Expansion into Unoccupied Areas.

Feral Mute Swans

Under the PAGC Flyway Management Plan,
Pennsylvania has a Two Fold Mute Swan Population Goal:
ZERO-FREE Ranging Feral Mute Swans,
and a Maximum of 250 in Captivity.

Mute Swans Private Pond

By Documenting an Apparent Contraction of the Range of Mute Swans
in the State of Pennsylvania, Reduced Numbers and Productivity of
Feral Mute Swans, and Relative Stability of Domestic Mute Swan
Numbers below the Maximum Level, the 2008 Survey suggests that
progress is being made toward achieving Management Plan Goals.
Feral Mute Swans       Two of the Above Mute Swans were Shot to Death. 

Duck Hunters Refuge     Pennsylvania Flyway Forum

Mute Swan Huners

Atlantic Flyway States and Provinces Conduct a Mid-Summer Mute Swan Survey (MSMSS)
approximately every 3 Years to Monitor Population trends of this Exotic,
Invasive Waterfowl Species. In Pennsylvania, the MSMSS consists of a Compilation
of Mute Swan Observations by Wildlife Conservation Officers (WCOs)
within their Districts during the Survey Period, which usually has Target Dates
in early August. WCOs are requested to Record any Mute Swans encountered
during their Routine Travels, and if possible to specifically check locations
where Mute Swans have been Observed or Reported in the past.

Feral Mute Swans

Much of this Progress can be attributed to the Diligent Control Efforts
of the PAGC and Partner Agencies following the Removal of Legal
Obstacles by the Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act of 2004.

Feral Mute Swans

Population Monitoring, Control Efforts, Guidelines and Regulations for keeping
Captive Mute Swans, and Public Education will all need to be continued or
improved to further Reduce the Number of Feral Mute Swans and keep
In-Check the still-sizable Population of Domestic Mute Swans, which
remains Capable of causing Nuisance and Ecological Problems while serving
as a Potential Source for future increases in the Free-Ranging Population.

Mute Swan Family

     2011-2012 Mid-Summer Mute Swan Survey
for Pennsylvania


The Pennsylvania portion of the 2011 (AF) Atlantic Flyway MSMSS was Conducted
by (WCO) Wildlife Conservation Officers Statewide from Mid-July through late August,
with the Majority of Surveys completed during the Target Dates of 1-14 August.

Lone Mute Swan

During the 2011 survey, 167 Mute Swans were observed in Pennsylvania.
This was 41% below the total from the 2008 survey and 52% below the peak (2002)
total for this survey. The numbers of Broods (10) and Cygnets (17) observed both
decreased from 2008, and both totals were the lowest since 1993.
The number of Mute Swans classified as Feral declined to 45 (15% fewer than
the 2008 survey and the lowest on record for this survey in Pennsylvania).

Nesting Feral Mute Swans

Feral Mute Swans are also accounting for a declining percentage of observed Broods
(10% in 2011, compared to 13% in 2008, 26% in 2005, and 38% in 2002).

Mute Swan Brood

The 2011 Survey also documented a continued Range Contraction in the State,
with the 30 WCO Districts where Mute Swans were observed being the lowest total
since 1999. Mute Swan Numbers continue to be highest in southeastern Pennsylvania (94).
For the entire AF, 9,202 Mute Swans (13% below the 2008 total) were observed (Table 1).

Hunters from other States were coming to Pennsylvania to Shot Feral Mute Swans.
Information allowing this was/is listed in their Hunting Guides.

MUTE Swans Hunter SHOT

As in Pennsylvania, Flyway-level Mute Swan Numbers trended upward from Survey
inception in 1986 to a peak in the 2002 MSMSS, but have decreased since then.
Declining trends are due mainly to Active Control Efforts throughout the Flyway
(aided by the removal of legal obstacles by the Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act of 2004);
these efforts will continue as Managers seek to reduce Mute Swan Populations
to levels identified in the AF Mute Swan Management Plan:
<3,000 flyway-wide, zero feral/maximum 250 captive in Pennsylvania.
Feral Mute Swans

At the flyway level, the 2005 MSMSS indicated that Atlantic Flyway
Mute Swan numbers had declined (albeit slightly) from 2002,
the first decrease observed since initiation of the survey.
Feral Mute Swans
A Summary of the 2008 Mute Swan Survey Results for the entire Flyway,
which will show whether the Flyway as a whole continues to mirror
Pennsylvania’s progress toward Management Plan Goals.

Mute Swan Family

Pennsylvania Feral Mute Swan

A Few Feral Mute Swans may Live for a while in Areas
where Hunting is not Allowed. 

PAGC – State Wildlife Management Agency

Historically, because Mute Swans are an Exotic and Non-Migratory Species,
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not consider them protected under
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), an International Treaty which gives
the Federal Government Primary Responsibility for Managing Migratory Birds,
including Native Ducks, Geese and Swans.

Mute Swan Canada Geese
Consequently, Management of Mute Swans was the Responsibility of Individual States.
In Pennsylvania, although there was No Formal Mute Swan Eradication Program,
Mute Swans that turned up on Public Lands are often Destroyed,
and State Law followed the MBTA in classifying them as Unprotected.

Feral Mute Swans

In effect, they could be taken without a Permit at any time, for any Reason,
by just about anyone. It’s likely that this approach was responsible for keeping
our Feral Mute Swan Population from growing as rapidly as in States
where Mute Swans were Protected under State Law
and/or are not consistently removed from Public Lands.

Pennsylvania Mute Swans

In December 2001, however, in response to a Lawsuit, a Federal Court Ruled
that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Could NOT Exclude Mute Swans from MBTA Protection.
This placed Mute Swans in the Same Protected Category as Native Waterfowl,
and in effect meant that Control Measures, including those used in Pennsylvania,
had to be put On-Hold or Stopped.

Feral Mute Swan

Combined with the rapidly multiplying Feral Mute Swan Population
in the Chesapeake Bay just to our South, and the increasing Numbers
of Domesticated Mute Swans already in Pennsylvania that could
serve as a source of new Feral Mute Swans, these Constraints on
Control Activities were a major cause for concern.

Mute Swan Family

Following the Court Ruling, the PAGC worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service
and other Atlantic Flyway States to Develop the
Atlantic Flyway Mute Swan Management Plan.

This Plan Established Mute Swan Population Goals for the Flyway,
along with Strategies to begin Reducing Populations to those Levels
within the Parameters of the MBTA.

Pennsylvania River

As part of this Plan, the PAGC established a Pennsylvania Population Goal
of Zero Feral, Free-Ranging Swans and a Maximum Population
of 250 Legally-Permitted Swans held in Captivity.

Captive Mute Swan Cygnets

One of the most important Control Measures suggested in the Management Plan
was the Issuance of Federal Depredation Permits to allow State Personnel to Resume
Removing Mute Swans from Public Lands
and from Private Lands with Land Owner Permission.

Feral Mute Swans

However, attempts by the USFWS to issue Mute Swan Depredation Permits were
Obstructed by further Lawsuits. The lack of Depredation Permits severely hampered
the ability of Wildlife Managers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to maintain
Mute Swan Populations at or below the levels specified in the Management Plan.

Feral Mute Swans

Fortunately, Legislation Clarifying that the MBTA Does Not, and was Never Intended
to, apply to Non-Native Species such as the Mute Swan was Passed by
the U.S. Congress and Signed by President George Bush in November, 2004.

The Last Mute Swans

In effect, this Action has returned Management Authority for Mute Swans
to the States, as was the case Prior to 2001. This Change should make it much
easier to keep Pennsylvania’s Mute Swan Population under Control;
of particular Benefit is the ability to Resume Euthanasia of Feral Mute Swans
where appropriate.

Feral Mute Swans

Other Management Tools may also prove useful in Reducing the Threat Posed by Mute Swans.

Egg Addling (treating Eggs to Prevent them from Hatching) is Labor-Intensive
and much less effective at Reducing Populations than Removal of Adult Mute Swans,
but it has been used with some success on Mute Swan Nests in Maryland,
and may be appropriate for some situations in Pennsylvania.

Spoiling Mute Swan Eggs

Another useful Option might be the Adoption of Regulations to Strictly Regulate
the Possession of Captive Mute Swans to ensure they do not cause Major Conflicts
or serve as a Source of new Feral Populations.

The Last Mute Swans
Regardless of the exact Control Methods ultimately Adopted,
it is very important to Change Public Perception that Mute Swans
are a Wonderful Addition to our Outdoors.
Feral Female Mute Swans
Just as House Sparrows and Starlings Rob Eastern Bluebirds
of Critical Cavity-Nesting locations, Mute Swans are Displacing Native Waterfowl
and Beginning to Over Use Aquatic Food Sources.

Grazing Mute Swans
Without our intervention now, while Pennsylvania’s Mute Swan Population is still
at a Relatively Manageable Level, the problems Mute Swans cause for Waterfowl
and other Wetland Species will worsen, and addressing these problems
will only become more difficult and expensive.
River HealthBy becoming more Informed about the Threats posed by Mute Swans
and other Introduced Invasive Species, Communicating this
Information to others, and supporting Control Efforts,
all Pennsylvanians who Care about Native Wetland Wildlife
and its Habitats can Play a Role in Safeguarding these
Species from Biological Invasions.

River Health

Resident Canadian Geese
While Pennsylvania and Virginia allowed Mute Swans to be Shot by Hunters,
Delaware aggressively removed the Birds from State Lands.
This Swan was Neglected by his Owners.
He finally walked away.  
 Luckily he was Rescued and Rehomed.
Feed Swans
Captive Swans Need to be Cared for as Domestic Pets.
They NEED Proper Adequate Food and Reasonable Living Conditions.

Mute Swan Family

This Information is a Work in Progress…..
As I learn more I will add to this Information..
Compiled by (C) L.M.Sweger    UpDated  May 2021
SWAN Lovers

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