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Updated: Barry County gives DNR clearance to kill mute swans
BARRY COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Barry County is attracting a lot of attention as it becomes the first county in the state to give the DNR nearly total access to come into the county and kill Mute Swans.
They look like harmless white birds but Barry County considers them to be such a threat, it has declared war on the Mute Swan.
Commissioners voted to give the DNR permission to go to all the county's lakes and rivers to kill the bird.
"For years we've been getting interest in reducing the mute swan and this is again the steps we have to go through to make this all happen and this is the first step," says Steve Chadwick with the DNR.
The state considers Mute Swans an invasive species that drive out native animals and eat six times more food than other birds. It has a plan in place to reduce their numbers statewide but no other county has given access like Barry.
The plan is to clear out Mute Swans to make room for native swans.
"A lot of times what I tell folks is it's a big white bird and our goal is to replace it with a big white bird which is the native Trumpeter Swan. So we're hoping by reducing the Mute Swan population we'll be able to open habitat for the native Trumpeter," says Chadwick.
But animal rights groups like the Barry County Humane Society are not convinced, President Mary Fisher told us today, "people like Mute Swans because they don't make noise, they keep geese away and they're nice to look at and don't' cause any problems." She says, “We are against the callous and brutal nature of these mass killings of the adult free roaming mutes."
All the townships in the county still have to approve the new ordinance. The DNR plans to give permits to private contractors to hunt the swans.
Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger released this statement on the policy: "Mute swans, just like Asian carp, are an invasive species not native to our state. These bad birds are thugs on Michigan waters. They kill native wildlife, are aggressive toward people and devour the nutrients our fish need to survive. Michigan's natural resources should be protected from all invasive species - not just the ugly ones like Asian carp. I am confident that Barry County's long-term partnership with state wildlife leaders will bring native wildlife back to our waters."