Resident wants all the lake's swans removed
FAIRFIELD BEACH – An Island Ave. resident whose sister obtained a permit to destroy a mute swan family recently asked the Ohio Division of Wildlife to remove all swans from Buckeye Lake. However, the ODW has no plans to do so.
Residents all around the lake were infuriated when the ODW issued a destr uction permit for a pair of mute swans – whom residents named Sam and Samantha – when the swans built a nest near the vacation home Christine Heimrich and Jeffrey Gerling own.
Heimrich told the ODNR that the swans nested close too their home's front door and became aggressive toward her if she passed too closely to the nest. They were also fouling her property.
Dist r ict O ne Wild life Management Supervisor Gary A. Ludwig issued a destruction permit on April 23. The female swan and her eggs were captured and destroyed, but the male escaped and remained at large until the destruction permit expired May 1.
In an email from Gerling to Ludwig The Beacon obtained, Gerling said swans successfully invaded his property and caused considerable hardship for him and his immediate family. He also said the swans, which are not native to Ohio, are scaring away blue herons, which are native to Ohio. Gerling said the swans' continuing presence negates use of the water adjacent to his property. He said he was forced to tell young family members that they couldn't swim near his home for fear the swans would become aggressive toward them. "It is not only appropriate the swans be removed and exterminated, it is imperative to do so," said Gerling in the email. "As a property owner, why is my family being denied the full use of our facility?"
Gerling sent The Beacon an email Tuesday affirming his ODW email and his opinion that the swans are a nuisance for the reasons he stated. "My concern is (the swans') aggressive nature and it is my fear that someone will again be attacked," he said. "Perhaps relocating the swans would be a more appropriate solution. That was the original intention when we first contacted ODNR."
Ludwig said the state can't relocate non-native species. He said the ODW has no specific plans for the swans remaining at Buckeye Lake at this time, but the division can still become involved if an attack occurs. He said if Buckeye Lake State Park requests ODW's assistance with removing swans from park property for safety reasons – if attacks on boaters or swimmers increase at the beaches – the ODW will assist, but only if asked. The park has not asked for assistance, said Ludwig.
Ludwig said if private landowners begin to experience attacks, the ODW's first step is to investigate the complaint and then consider if a control (extermination) permit would solve the problem. A permit will not be issued until an attack occurs. A permit will not be issued as a preventative measure. He said control permits are only issued to specific properties and the swans are currently roaming because nesting season is over. When the control permit was issued this spring, the swans were nesting on Gerling’s property.
“We agree with you that the mute swans should not be a part of the Ohio landscape,” said Ludwig. “However, eliminating them is no simple undertaking.” He said all areas of the state would have to work together. “Before any formal large scale population control efforts are ever considered for Buckeye Lake, we must first educate the community about mute swans and the problems they cause,” said Ludwig. “Right now, the situation is controversial and emotion-driven and your side of the story hasn’t been adequately heard.” He said until the public hears both sides of the story, it would be very difficult to sell Gerling’s neighbors on the idea of eliminating the swans from Buckeye Lake. Any control effort would need to take place during nesting season, he said, which has passed for this year. Swans are difficult to capture after nesting season. Ludwig reiterated that the state park must request a control effort before the ODW could become involved on state property. Landowners can help when they request and utilize control permits on their properties when they find mute swan nests.
Ludwig told Gerling if he experiences any more swan attacks to contact Fairfield County Wildlife Officer Tony Zerkle so he can investigate the situation. “If he determines that a control permit would be effective and applicable, we can discuss the option of a control permit at that time,” said Ludwig.