US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Information and Technology Report USGS/BRD/ITR—2004–0005


US government work


The symposium “Mute Swans and their Chesapeake Bay Habitats,” held on June 7, 2001, provided a forum for biologists and managers to share research findings and management ideas concerning the exotic and invasive mute swan (Cygnus olor). This species has been increasing in population size and is considered by many to be a problem in regard to natural food resources in the Bay that are used by native waterfowl during the winter months. Other persons, however, feel that resource managers are attempting to create a problem to justify more killing of waterfowl by hunters. Some persons also believe that managers should focus on the larger issues causing the decline of native food resources, such as the unabated human population increase in the Bay watershed and in the immediate coastal areas of the Bay. The symposium, sponsored by the Wildfowl Trust of North America and the U.S. Geological Survey, provided the atmosphere for presentation of mute swan data and opinions in a collegial setting where discussion was welcomed and was often informative and enthusiastic. An interesting historic review of the swan in regard to the history of mankind was presented, followed by a discussion on the positive and negative effects of invasive species. Biologists from different parts of the continent discussed the population status of the species in several states in the east and in the Great Lakes area. Data on the food habits of this species were presented in regard to submerged aquatic vegetation, and an interesting discussion on the role that the food habits of Canada geese in regard to native vegetation was presented. Findings and recommendations of the Mute Swan Task Force were presented. Finally, a representative of the Friends of Animals gave a thought-provoking presentation in defense of the mute swan. The presentations, in general, provided the necessary information and recommendations to allow managers to proceed with management of this controversial species with new and valuable perspectives.