TRCA (Toronto Region Conservation Authority) are reviewing their management strategy for Mute Swans and Canada Geese. While many Sam Smith park visitors enjoy seeing the swan families at Sam Smith, that does come at some cost to native species like Red-Necked Grebes who are also trying to breed in the park. Read the letter below that was sent to Friends of Sam Smith Park by TRCA when more information was requested. TRCA will have swan and goose info at the Sam Smith Bird Festival on May 28th and have lots of information available as well as staff to answer questions.
Currently TRCA manages Mute
Swans and Canada Geese on waterfront sites (including Sam Smith) and select
inland sites. For Mute Swans management entails egg oiling, and for Canada
Geese management entails egg oiling and a round up of moulting geese at a couple
of locations. We are updating the strategy to ensure that we are approaching
the issue using the best science, monitoring and management tools available.
Mute Swans are managed because they are a non-native, invasive bird that have
significant impact on native flora and fauna. Specifically, Mute Swans are very
territorial and will defend their territory against almost all intruders thereby
excluding (and sometimes directly harming) many wildlife species from coastal
marsh habitats at critical breeding times. Mute Swans are also voracious
eaters, consuming about 3.8kg of wetland vegetation a day. This can seriously
affect native wetland vegetation communities, wetland restoration efforts, and
the availability of food to other species, especially waterfowl.
Based on the 2008 CWS
mid-summer inventory (monitoring sites are grouped by general location) there
were 98 adults in the Toronto Islands alone and an additional 463 adults between
east of the Island to Oshawa Second Marsh and west of the Islands to Burlington.
Inland sites are not surveyed, so the numbers are an underestimate. This same
area in 2002 had a total of 240 adults, so the population trend is steadily
increasing. CWS staff note that the trend would have a much sharper incline if
there were no control efforts underway. The next survey will occur this year.
The Toronto population also fluctuates seasonally. There were hundreds of
Mute Swans across the waterfront in winter 2008-09. While this doesn't impact
nesting birds, it does impact wetland vegetation as they continue to forage in
the winter and may reduce the availability of food and habitat to native
The only control method that
TRCA uses for Mute Swans is egg oiling. While this does not address all the
effects they have on marshes, it will ultimately slow the population growth and
reduce their impact on our native flora and fauna. Oiling procedures following
the US Humane Society protocol where eggs are immersed in water and only oiled
if they are less than 10 days old (eggs older than this float, so it is easy to
determine their age). The management strategy is a region-wide plan that
involves the collaboration and cooperation of multiple agencies and
municipalities. Public education is a major component of the strategy.