Bay Journal

Massacre is wrong way to solve mute swan problem; Let’s focus on fixing the Bay, not attacking the establishment

  • By Opinion on July 01, 2009
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Massacre is wrong way to solve mute swan problem

The recent decision by the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to slaughter the remaining 500 mute swans in the Maryland sector of the Chesapeake Bay is a pitiful commentary on civilization in the great state of Maryland in the 21st century.

I hope it is promptly reversed by Gov. Martin O'Malley in the name of humane sanity and the honorable reputation of our state nationally. One cannot justify the murder of these adult birds by the cruel means used because of their meager consumption of Bay grasses when compared to similar destruction by boat propellers and dredging by watermen.

The addling of the eggs is a sufficient means of controlling the species.

There are far many more serious obstructions to the restoration of the health of the Chesapeake than the threat provided by 500 beautiful swans-they just may be the easiest target for some who can't find any easier goal to knock off.

I ask those who agree to call or e-mail the governor.

Neil M. Ridgely
Finksburg, MD

Let's focus on fixing the Bay, not attacking the establishment

I was disappointed in the lead story "Region's growth problem only getting larger," (May 2009). Improving water quality in the Chesapeake is an achievable goal. We should keep our focus on practical solutions.

Limiting growth in the Chesapeake watershed is not possible. The factors driving increased growth in this huge area are almost countless; each one presenting a different, and usually insurmountable, political dynamic. This administration may present an opportunity, but only for ideas that can show traction in the next few years.

There is a practical path. As with any other environmental cleanup, we should start by eliminating the sources. The commentary, "For biggest 'bang for buck,' ban land application of manure" should have been your lead in that issue. Even if the author is half right that nutrients could be reduced by 25 percent by regulating the 5 percent of farmers who still use manure, it should become a major focus of Bay-supporting organizations.

Likewise, there are practical steps that can remediate the damage. Setting a complete moratorium on the commercial harvesting of menhaden should be an objective. The limits set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are not even a first step.

Virginia government is the problem and the opportunity, and efforts should be redoubled with Gov. Timothy Kaine.

The big step which potentially fixes all of the damage is moving forward on oysters. The article, "Bay only 38 percent of the way toward meeting water, habitat goals" (April 2009) offers an outline of a realistic plan, complete with an assessment of the challenges.

This should be the number one agenda item for all Bay-supporting organizations. We need a plan that focuses on fixing the environment, not futile attacks on the establishment, such as the limiting-growth article, or making people feel good, such as the article on the Anacostia cleanup, "In rite of spring, volunteers clean up tons of garbage" (May 2009).

The Bay is a wonder of the world and deserves a genuine cleanup effort.

John Walsh
Arlington, VA

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