NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Public backlash to a plan to eradicate mute swans has the Department of Environmental Conservation changing course.

As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported Saturday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has been seeking to have the swans declared a “prohibited invasive species,” and have all of the 2,200 mute swans in the state eradicated by 2025.

But following outrage from residents, the department decided to revise its original plan to shoot or euthanize the birds, and is now considering non-lethal ways to control the population.

The methods could include destroying the nests and sterilizing the swans, according to published reports.

Agency biologists had said the elegant white birds have multiplied to the point that they’ve become a pest that pollutes water, displaces native birds, poses a hazard to aviation and shows aggression toward people.

But last month, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens) came out against the proposal, introducing a bill that would put a two-year moratorium on the eradication plan.

Avella said he doesn’t see how the birds pose a problem.

“It seems to be a very capricious and arbitrary decision,” he told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman last month. “To eradicate an entire species here in New York State is just incomprehensible.”

The birds are most numerous on Long Island, the lower Hudson Valley and along Lake Ontario.

They were imported from Europe in the late 1800s to decorate private estates.

On Long Island, more than 30,000 people signed a petition to stop the plan to kill the birds, the newspaper reported.

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