BRICK – Over a dozen residents of Seawood Harbor have organized to try and stop the euthanization of a male swan, which the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has deemed aggressive.
According to Rochester Drive resident Irene Almeida, the swan is simply protecting its nest and its six cygnets (swan babies).
Almeida said she has seen jet skiers torment the bird by circling it at a high speed until he flaps his wings and screeches.
“Then they video record it for fun,” she said from the end of her street where she gathered with a group of her neighbors recently. They were watching the swan family and trying to get answers about when the USDA was planning to capture or kill the swan.
Almeida said the problem started when a jet skier hit a docked boat at night and blamed the swan, who he said had been chasing him. He reported that there was an aggressive swan to the authorities.
“We have RING video that shows that’s simply not true,” Almeida said. “There was no swan around.”
Resident Don Defilipo, an Army veteran of 24 years, said he saw angry behavior from the swan when people were throwing rocks, cans and water bottles at it.
“Once the cygnets leave the nest, he’s not as aggressive,” Defilipo said. “When people aren’t trying to hurt him, he’s docile.”
Seawood Harbor resident of 35 years, Anna Mayer, said there is only one swan family in the nature preserve there and she has been watching them for years.
“We’ve never experienced this kind of hogwash,” she said. “The nest is right across from my house, and I’ve watched them go through all kinds of weather. When there’s a storm, the male picks up grass to protect the nest,” she said. “I’m devastated, my daughter is devastated and so is my granddaughter. This is unfathomable.”
Seawood Harbor resident Phil Ciprello said he has seen the male swan act aggressively against a stand up paddleboarder, but “I’m not looking for it to get killed. Just let it be,” he said.
Irene Almeida and her husband, Tony, offered to pay to have the swan family relocated and for their upkeep, but the USDA said they do not relocate swans.
That’s true, said NJ Wildlife Services State Director for the USDA Aaron Guikema.
“As I understand it, a potentially aggressive swan was chasing a jet skier,” Guikema said in a recent phone call.
“Our staff looked last week…and it was behaving in an aggressive fashion. We’re still working on the details, but the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife has a protocol set up,” he said.
New Jersey has somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 swans, and every now and then “one of these situations pops up and there’s not a whole lot of options,” he said.
Relocating a swan does little to change aggressive tendencies, Guikema said.
“We’re still determining the details. I know some residents wanted to relocate the swans but it’s up to the State of NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife,” he said. “They would have to issue a permit.”
The euthanization of the male swan is not imminent, Guikema said. They do not announce the event since it “has the potential for conflict,” he added.