Baby swans on Longboat targeted by river mammal

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Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2013 5:24 pm | Updated: 8:06 pm, Tue Aug 20, 2013.

LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. - At the Bay Isles community and the Longboat Key Club Golf Course, swans are looked at as beautiful creatures. The animals are kind of like the area's mascot.

"The folks on the island take a lot of pride in them," said David Novak, who looks after the swans. "One of the most treasured moments is when you bring your kids or grandchildren down here and you can show them the wild swans."

Those moments could disappear, all thanks to a river mammal.

"The surprise is that no one, including all of the nature lovers, had ever seen one before on the island," said Novak.

River otters are being blamed for the deaths of several baby swans at Bay Isles. Jane Matson, a resident there, spotted three otters stalking a nest belonging to a beloved swan in the community named "Beverly."

"I was very upset," said Matson. "We look forward to this every year. We want every hatchling to get to the water and every hatchling to survive."

Damen Hurd of Wildlife Incorporated, says river otters may appear cute and cuddly, but can cause serious damage to aquatic life, and yes, swans.

"They are pretty much going to take advantage of any situation when they can eat," said Hurd. They will occasionally eat ducks, especially the younger ducks, geese, and things like that. It's not out of the question that they would have eaten swans," said Hurd.

River otters are generally not a threat to humans, but can bite if a person tries to pick one up.

According to Novak, the Bay Isles homeowner's association is looking into hiring a trapper to humanely remove the otters and relocate them.

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  • Ecologist posted at 5:48 pm on Mon, Jul 8, 2013.

    Ecologist Posts: 1

    Mute swans are nonnative and invasive, meaning they displace native wildlife. Otters are native and in decline in eastern and midwestern states. Let's value our rare native wildlife over invasive, nonnative species. If the mute swan population can't take the predation by otters then good riddance to the mute swans. River otters have been coexisting with our native waterfowl for several million years.

  • onwall posted at 4:58 pm on Mon, Jul 8, 2013.

    onwall Posts: 1

    How messed up is Florida? They are constantly crying about the damage that introduced species are causing and in fact forcing the rest of the country to pass laws restricting the pet trade now they want to relocate the native otters in favor of the "wild" swans, which are not actually wild at all but non native mute swans that someone turned loose. Round up the swans and get rid of them and let the native wildlife alone. Or does is the damage of introduced species only being done by the ones that aren't cute like snakes?


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