NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York State is looking into killing or capturing all wild mute swans by the year 2025.

Mute swans are large white birds with orange and black bills; they are less vocal than other swans.

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State officials said an overpopulation of the swans threatens water plants, water quality, puts planes at risk and displaces local birds, 1010 WINS reported.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also said the swans are aggressive towards humans and other birds.

The DEC said in a statement, “mute swans can exhibit aggressive behavior towards people, destroy water plants, displace local birds, harm water quality, and put planes at risk”

The proposed state plan would allow mute swans to be shot or euthanized, sterilized, or captured and placed in a zoo or other wildlife facility, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, many have spoken out against the idea, calling it cruel and unnecessary.

“I don’t understand at all. I really don’t,” said John Jack of West Babylon. “With all the problems we have in the world, we’re going to pick on swans?”

“I’m very saddened by it, to come up and say that we’re just going to now shoot these and eradicate them and wipe them off the face of New York, well then what’s next?” said Gary Rogers of the Nassau County SPCA. “I think we do more damage to the environment from other things than these swans.”

Rogers said the animals are only aggressive if they feel you are going to harm their young.

“I really haven’t heard of anybody being attacked by a swan,” Rogers said. “They become aggressive when you go near their young, and I think that we would be aggressive if some stranger started going near our children. There’s really not a lot of difference between us and them.”

Rogers said Long Island has the largest population of mute swans in the state. Close to 1,900 mute swans live on Long Island.

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“We brought these swans to this country, we have a responsibility to take care of them so we can develop a better plan of managing them,” Rogers said.

He called the proposal to eliminate the swans a waste of resources and tax dollars.

But some expressed concerns that the swans indeed may be dangerous.

“You have kids and families hanging out here all the time, so it could be dangerous,” one man said in the Massapequa Preserve.

In the preserve and other ponds in Suffolk County, CBS 2 saw children feeding the swans. The DEC wants that outlawed, saying getting too close can lead to attacks.

The mute swan fiercely defends its young, and some walkers were confronted.

“He just started flapping his wings, and seemed like he was agitated,” a woman said.

The mute swan was first brought to New York in the 19th century, and experts said the species tries to take over its environment.

“If you start feeding them with children — giving bread or whatever, they are just like the geese,” said Mary Ellen Abers of Massapequa. “They can become very aggressive then.”

The DEC said it expects the swan-culling project would take 10 years.

Public comment on the plan is open through Jan. 31.

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