A Friendlier Swan Comes to Elk Rapids

The iconic outdoor swan statue that nests near the Elk Rapids Chamber of Commerce may not be as friendly as once thought. According to the Michigan DNR, the landmark swan is an invasive species for the Northern Michigan town.  MyNorth Media would like to thank the Elk Rapids Chamber of Commerce for the following content.

A Friendlier Swan Comes to Elk Rapids

The Swan has been an icon and a landmark for visitors in Elk Rapids for many years. Thanks to a recent history lesson from Hank Bailey, Elder in the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, it appears we need a friendlier swan to welcome people to Elk Rapids.

Trumpet Swan

Trumpet Swan

A Trumpeter Swan, with a black bill, is native to Michigan and currently on our state’s threatened species list due to the invasion of the Mute Swan, with an orange bill.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

A quote from the DNR website brochure, Protecting Our Trumpeter Swan What is the DNR Doing? Mute Swans Invading Michigan’s Waters:

A single mute swan can consume four to eight pounds of plants a day. They uproot and destroy these wetland plants that are a main food source for native birds and cover for native fish and invertebrates. Continuous feeding by a flock of mute swans can destroy an entire wetland ecosystem. Mute Swans threaten humans. These large birds show little fear of people. Each year the DNR receives reports of Mute Swan attacks on people in boats and on the shore

Though hunting Mute Swans is not allowed, the DNR issues permits to remove Mute Swans and/or their nests and eggs. There are many conservation groups that support DNR’s drastic reduction of Mute Swans numbers such as: The National Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited, The American Bird Conservancy and many more. Decreasing Mute Swan populations, and therefore reducing conflicts, is only possible with help from local landowners.

Students of the Elk Rapids High school have been recruited to paint the swan’s bill so that it reflects the welcoming community of Elk Rapids. The Elk Rapids Chamber wishes to thank Hank Bailey for bringing attention to this issue, as we certainly do not want to portray an image of a predator in our waters.

More Northern Michigan

Article Comments

  • Ross

    In urging that mute swans be killed, you write:

    “A single mute swan can consume four to eight pounds of plants a day.”

    You fail to mention, however, that the larger trumpeter swan eats up to twenty pounds a day. You are entitled to your opinion but not your own facts.

    In rulemaking, a federal agency found that while there is no scientific evidence on the issue, anecdotal evidence suggests that in a fight, the larger trumpeter swan would win.

    To demonize an animal species while misleadingly presenting facts is morally misguided. You should now correct your facts to note — and this is established by the scientific evidence — that it is the trumpeter swan that is heavier and has the longer neck. (The longer neck allows it to reach further down).

    It is the trumpeter swan that eats more.

    Mute swans are not nearly a menace to humans as humans are to mute swans.

    Most menacing of all is a kill program advanced by false factual claims in the name of education.

    • Rork1

      You failed to mention any falsehoods in the article.
      It’s your “up to twenty” that’s propaganda. I’ll bet you know full well that trumpeters and mutes are approximately the same size.
      One is native, the other is not. Less mutes in the wild can help our natives.

    • Ross

      One of many sources of data on wing span, weight and length I rely on is from the Trumpeter Swan Society and cited works.


      One of many sources of data on the amount a trumpeter eats is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

      Trumpeter Swan – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

      Mar 28, 2014 – A mature adult will consume up to 20 pounds of wet herbage each day!

      But there are many authoritative sources providing the same information and I am open to any of them. If folks agree that the Trumpeter swan eats and poops more than the mute swan, then we are in agreement.

      Generally, I consider Gayet “Wetlands” synthesis published February 2014 in Hydrobiologia to have the best survey of the literature. There is no scientific basis for the claim that trumpeter swans are friendlier than mute swans. Indeed, it is the mute swan that is considered the “tame swan”.

      As for the reports by environment management conservation agencies — as distinguished from the peer reviewed literature such as Gayet, (Feb. 2014), a hammer will find a nail.

      Such public policy decisions should include ethics — such as should have been done when humans came to North America and were making decisions about the people who were here.

      In New York, the mute swan has been here since the 19th Century whereas the trumpeter swan first began breeding in the wild in New York in the 1990s. See NY Draft Management Report. Thus, if we want to imagine that labels have special importance over ethical considerations, it is the mute swan that is the Native New Yorker.

      In the news –

      1. Neighborhood Stunned As DEC Shoots Swans


      DEC officers charged with going on mute swan ‘killing spree’ as …
      New York Daily News-Jun 20, 2014
      ALBANY – State officials engaged in a “killing spree” of mute swansas lawmakers were voting to save the birds, State Sen. Tony Avella …