By Jim Williams
Feral Mute Swans are collectors’ items for Minnesota birders, but birds of a different feather in Michigan. My wife and I rode the ferry today that travels across Lake Michigan between Muskegon, Michigan, and Milwaukee. We saw about four dozen Mute Swans in the Muskegon harbor. There are several thousaned of these birds in Michigan. This is an introduced species, native to Europe and Asia but not North America. Mute Swans are aggressive birds, driving native waterfowl from lakes they choose for their use. Loon populations have been impacted by the swans. Lake-shore property owners in Michigan often petition to have the swans killed because of their aggressive habits toward both man and beast, and because the swans soil docks and swimming rafts. The Michigan DNR authorizes such kills, sometimes to the dismay of people who don’t understand the problem non-native species can cause. The population of these birds in the Great Lakes area is reported to be increasing from 10 to 20 percent per year. In Minnesota, the birds are classified as a regulated invasive species. Introduction into the wild is prohibited, and possession of captive birds requires a game-farm license and containment.
Regulatory classification (agency): Mute swans are a regulated invasive species, which means introduction into the wild is prohibited (DNR). Possession of captive birds requires a state game farm license and fencing to contain them.