Traverse City Record-Eagle

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July 18, 2013

Swan strikes back, then disappears

TRAVERSE CITY — An aggressive mute swan disappeared from Silver Lake, but lakeside residents can’t get an answer from the state wildlife officials as to its whereabouts.

“If they’ve done something to that swan, I’m going to take it up their food chain,” said Chuck Fricke, a lakeside resident. “They’re supposed to be protecting the wildlife.”

Personal watercraft riders this summer harassed the male swan that stood guard over his mate and brood of three cygnets. The swan, in turn, chased any personal watercraft that drew near, and knocked a man off his machine. That led Silver Lake Improvement Association officials to call the local Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR discussed taking the male swan off the lake, but swan lovers wanted the agency to transfer the entire family.

“I don’t know if swans have hearts, but he’s been her mate for years,” said lake resident Marian Brady, who enjoyed watching the waterfowl.

The DNR countered that moving the whole family would require a public hearing, and some on the lake wanted quicker action.

Fricke fears a DNR official killed the bird despite his repeated phone calls and email offers to assist with the transfer of the swan family to a wildlife refuge. He heard nothing back; local DNR officials also did not return repeated phone calls for this article.

The DNR isn’t a fan of the graceful mute swans, brought to the states in the 1800s. They’re now considered an invasive species that displace native swans and ruin wetlands. The swans were in the news last year when Michigan officials asked residents to help shoot and kill 13,500 mute swans — about 90 percent of the population.

The swan’s disappearance on Silver Lake relieved some who feared the male swan might one day hurt someone, especially a child. But others suggested the swans were punished for the actions of thoughtless watercrafter users who taunted the male.

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