Now, the question is whether the DEC will entirely change the plan and decide not to exterminate the swans -- or whether it will simply devise a new way to eradicate them.
It's possible that the agency could use sterilization, rather than introducing a hunting program, or rounding the swans up themselves. Bird experts and animal advocates are split on the subject -- some, like the Audubon Society, say the swans are harmful to other bird species, while others say a cull would be cruel, noting that state officials would likely exterminate the birds by gassing or shooting them.
"If the overall goal to eliminate all the swans in the state hasn't changed, then we will send the same comments," said David Karopkin, founder of Goosewatch NYC, referring to a second public comment period that will be held on the issue by the DEC this spring. "We don't think that they should be killing any of them." Karopkin and GooseWatch say that just because the swans are not native doesn't mean they are invasive, and that they can be ecologically valuable because they are sentinel species that signal changes in the ecosystem.