Cuomo vetos Avella’s bill blocking mute swan eradication plan

By Tom Momberg

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill sponsored by Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) that sought to halt the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to eradicate large populations of mute swans from the state.

This was the second time such a bill has been vetoed by the governor. The senator’s bill, sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), passed both state legislative chambers in June.

Earlier in the year, the DEC came up with a revised plan that said the birds could remain in urban parks and protected habitats, while it would reduce the numbers in wetlands and areas upstate affected by what the agency calls an invasive species through non-lethal methods, such as dusting eggs to make them infertile.

The original plan called for more deadly population control tactics.

Avella said the changes were not enough to protect the swans, and a majority of both the Senate and Assembly agreed by casting their votes on the measure.

“What I know, along with Assemblyman Cymbrowitz and numerous advocates, is that scientific data does not back the decision to exterminate the mute swan,” Avella said in a statement. “I stand with the activists, and the public, in saying that we do not want the mute swan harmed.”

Avella’s bill would have not only put a two-year moratorium on the DEC’s plan in hopes of stopping it completely, but also would have required the state agency to publish scientific proof that mute swans are invasive and harmful to other species.

There is a population of about 2,200 mute swans in the state, according to DEC figures.

Avella has vowed to reintroduce the bill again when the Senate convenes in January. A two-thirds super majority vote in both chambers could prevent a third veto.

~Tom Momberg