The West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees at its Monday, June 18 meeting unanimously approved a resolution to remove mute swans, their nests, and eggs from township lakefront homes.
This move comes after Michael Mankvitz, a board member of the Middle Straits Lake Association, wrote a letter to township Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy on behalf of the residents of Middle Straits Lake regarding issues with aggressive swans in the area.
Mankvitz stated that incidents with swans have included attacks on small boats, watercraft, kayaks, waterskiers and wakeboarders that have resulted in injuries and erratic boating to avoid swans.
He noted that mute swans are not a native species to the state and that the swan population has increased from about six or eight swans three years ago to over 30 currently.
Mankvitz said that the population growth has led to damage to the lake’s natural habitat and ecosystem. He added that ducks, herons and other waterfowl species are being chased away by the swans.
Township Trustee Steve Kaplan said that the resolution applies to the entire township, but lake associations will have the option to opt out if they don’t want the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to come in to remove swans.
In the meantime, the resolution will be sent to the DNR, which is then expected to come in to handle the situation at Middle Straits Lake at a time to be determined.
The DNR in January created a Mute Swan Management and Control Program Policy with the short-term goal of reducing the statewide mute swan population growth to zero on all lands, and the long-term goal of maintaining a spring population of less than 2,000 mute swans throughout Michigan by 2030.
According to the DNR, mute swans were brought to the U.S. from Europe in the late 1800s and those swans that escaped from captivity have established populations in a number of states.
In fact, the DNR states that the mute swan population in Michigan originated from one pair introduced in Charlevoix County in 1919.
In 2010, the DNR counted the mute swan population in the state at 15,500, up from about 5,700 in 2000.
Mute swans are protected under state law and can only be removed under a DNR-issued permit.
The way someone can tell a mute swan apart from Michigan’s native swans, the trumpeter and tundra swans, is that a mute swan has an orange bill and a black knob at the top of its bill.