BY ANNE STANTON
— TRAVERSE CITY — Mystery solved. State Department of Natural Resources officials acknowledged an officer shot and killed a male mute swan that had attacked people on Grand Traverse County's Silver Lake.
"We had received several calls in the last couple weeks and Silver Lake has a history in the last year or two with an aggressive male mute swan. The last (person attacked) was a young child," said Katie Keen, wildlife technician for the state Department of Natural Resources in Cadillac. The swan was killed Saturday.
Keen said the DNR has a duty to protect human safety. Transferring the swan wasn't an option because it would just move a problem to another lake.
"Human safety is a concern and mute swans can break bones and knock people off whatever they're in," she said. "The problem is you're not on land and you can't run away. You can't duck and hide. You're in the water."
Mute swans, although beautiful, are considered an invasive species that can displace native species and damage wetlands. The state DNR sought to decrease its numbers last year.
"But this had nothing to do with population control," Keen said. "We would have handled the case in the same way if it was any other animal."
Problems began when the male swan, protecting its mate and brood of three cygnets, was taunted by people riding personal watercraft. The mute swan then started attacking anyone who came too close.
The issue of the swan's fate divided Silver Lake residents. Some wanted the male immediately removed for reasons of safety, while others had hoped the DNR would transfer the entire swan family to a wildlife refuge.
Ann Krantz said that when she heard about the DNR's proposal to "remove the swan," she thought it meant transferring it to a different lake — not killing it.