Mute Swan Population Growth Affects Indiana Habitat | News

Mute swans are an invasive species that have established themselves in large numbers on many Indiana water bodies, reports the state Department of Natural Resources.

As the population of mute swans has grown in recent decades, the habitat destruction attributed to their presence has also increased.

An adult mute swan consumes up to eight pounds of aquatic and wetland vegetation per day and, during nest construction, may destroy large areas of wetland vegetation. These disturbances can have serious impacts on water quality, aquatic fish and wildlife habitat, and wetland functions.

Mute swans (scientifically known as Cygnus olor) can also be extremely aggressive towards humans, pets and native wildlife, especially during nesting and raising young. Whether a community concerned about mute swans should explore ways to reduce their impacts, according to the DNR.

They can damage our aquatic and wetland ecosystems while acting aggressively towards people, pets and native wildlife. However, many people are unaware of the problems mute swans cause, but are instead drawn to them because they are a large, charismatic and beautiful bird.

The mute swan is native to much of Eurasia. It was introduced to the United States at the end of the 19th century. The species now occupies much of the country with the largest populations found around the Great Lakes region and the Atlantic coast.

Since mute swans are not native to the United States, federal protection for the species under the Migratory Birds Treaty Reform Act was removed in 2004, according to MNR records.

In Indiana, however, mute swans are currently regulated and a permit from the Indiana DNR is required to disturb the eggs or to legally capture or take a mute swan, unless the person is on property that she owns or rents. Live mute swans may be kept as pets, bred in captivity, and sold without an MNR permit, but must be immobilized (i.e. rendered flightless) and kept in an enclosure that prevents them from escape into nature.