There are many Mute Swans in and around the park and a pair have built a nest at the wetland viewing area. Some park visitors have heard that the eggs will be oiled to prevent them from hatching and wish to know the reasons behind this policy. Here is TRCA's explanation.
"Toronto and Region Conservation, in partnership with the City of Toronto and with support from the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), have been managing Canada Geese and Mute Swans under CWS permit in the GTA for over 16 years. Mute Swan Management programs are also commonly practiced in many parts of North America.
Mute Swan management is being undertaken because Mute Swans are not native to North America and their population has been steadily increasing over the last decade, as they appear to lack significant natural predators. They cause significant damage in natural habitats; they displace and disrupt native waterfowl and other wildlife species that are less common and more sensitive to disturbance; and they can be very aggressive toward people. Mute Swans also seriously affect the lengthy and costly shoreline and wetland restoration work that has been completed along the Toronto waterfront.
Typically with the Mute Swan Management Program, eggs are sprayed with mineral oil to prevent egg development and re-nesting, but in some cases the nests are removed because of the public’s interaction with the swans and the high probability of human/ wildlife conflict concerns. In some areas along the Toronto waterfront many people have been observed feeding the swans, and even have gone to such lengths as providing nesting material to build nests in highly developed areas. This is the root cause of the problem and is altering the swans natural behaviours and causing them to be attracted to nesting in unnatural areas. Wildlife that becomes dependent on humans often results in conflicts between humans and animals.
Our management approach is well thought out. All eggs are float tested before nests are oiled or destroyed by briefly immersing the eggs in water (as per the US Humane Society protocol). The float test helps determine the age of the egg, so that management is undertaken ethically. If a float test shows positive development, eggs are not removed or oiled. We monitor specific areas every two weeks during the nesting season for Canada Geese and Mute Swan nests, so development of any eggs is unlikely.
The Mute Swan Management Program will not affect the existing opportunities for public viewing or appreciation of these birds; however, it will slow the ongoing population increase and distribution of the species into other waterfront habitats that are currently occupied by native species. Furthermore, it is important to continue the current management program as it has proven to be effective in mitigating the local population increase with minimal cost and effort."
Please note that the Mute Swan management programme is carried out by the Toronto Conservation Authority who have jurisdiction over wildlife management along the waterfront. This is NOT an initiative of Friends of Sam Smith Park. Please address any concerns directly with TRCA.
Follow this link to an Environment Canada fact sheet on the Mute Swan.