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Outrage over killing of swans in LaPorte

Mute swans at Pine Lake // WSBT 22 photo

Dead swans have created a social media storm in LaPorte County.

Even though no laws were broken, some are outraged after the killing of mute swans at Pine Lake.

Mute swans aren’t native to the area. They were brought here as ornamental birds from Europe and Asia.

The DNR says mute swans can do a lot of damage. Others who live in this area say just because the birds are invasive doesn’t mean they need to die.

On quiet mornings... you can find Nancy Addie by the lakeside.

“I am out here probably 3 to 5 days a week and my main focus is to find the swans, and the cygnets during the spring time, and I take pictures of them showing the beauty of Laporte County,” said Addie.

Some of these birds are like family to Addie.

“I watch them grow from the day they hatch all the way up into adulthood.”

As lovely as the birds are, they don’t belong here.

“They can eat up to 8 pounds of vegetation a day,” said Jessica Merkling, urban wildlife biologist. “When they eat, they dig up tubers and stuff like that and that can cause removal of habitat for other species.”

To cut down on that problem, the LaPorte Area Lake Association got a permit to kill and remove some of the birds. The permit requires air rifles and firearms to be used only in safe and legal areas.

Addie was devastated.

“We have three huge lakes along with Ore Lake, Andrew Lake and all the ponds. For me, I’m not an expert, it seems like, gosh, there’s plenty of lakes and food for all these swans.”

There might be enough to go around now, but maybe not forever.

“Just because you have two, they can mate, have babies and then the problem escalates,” said Merkling.

Addie — and many others — have asked, why not just relocate the birds? The DNR says you’ll just have the same problem at the new spot.

“If you think of trumpeter Swans, would it be better to maybe see those types of swans and other native birds come back to an area that were previously run off because of mute swans?” said Merkling.

Biologists say mute swans don’t just steal from native species. They can also be very aggressive toward other birds — and even humans.

Addie says she’s never seen that, and has even fed the swans by hand.

The DNR issued the permit and told WSBT it is being used lawfully.

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