The Great Black Swan Debate

The Great Black Swan Debate title=
Black swans swimming in the Santa Barbara Harbor (Photo by Susan Lafond)
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By edhat staff

Animal activists and rescue groups have been debating the recent rescue of five black swans in Santa Barbara's Harbor in recent weeks.

At the beginning of the month, residents and visitors alike began marveling and snapping photos of the black swans that are rarely seen outside captivity in Southern California.

The swans were reportedly removed by a local animal rescue group and there appear to be some arguments over whether they should have been displaced at all.

An article published by the Montecito Journal and written by Gretchen Lieff (writer and Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network board member) and Nick Masuda, states the Animal Rescue Team led by Julia Di Sieno captured the five black swans. 

"The scene was a chaotic one, as conflicting instructions led to some demanding that the black swans be left alone, while Di Sieno and her group believed the rescue effort was necessary due to the Harbor water containing materials potentially harmful to the herd," the article reads.  

Tony Masiel, President of the Santa Ynez Valley-based Animal Rescue Team, penned a letter to several local media outlets taking aim at Lieff alleging she engaged in "deplorable and disruptive behavior" during the rescue.

He claimed the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network (SBWCN) knew about the swans and failed to act and save the birds from what he deemed as an unsafe environment. He stated the Animal Rescue Team was able to rescue the swans, and "after a thorough assessment by a veterinarian" were relocated to a safe refuge at an undisclosed location.

"This was accomplished despite Gretchen's disruption, and another SBWCN volunteer verbally assaulting ART during the rescue, even attempting to hinder the rescue effort by throwing stones at the swans to shoo them away," wrote Masiel.

Shortly after his email, SBWCN responded with its own statement on the swan events. The nonprofit claims since receiving reports of the swan's location, multiple staff members and volunteers to the harbor to actively monitor them. Their staff did not witness signs of distress or danger and received multiple reports of the swans flying, according to the statement.

"Since the day the swans arrived, SBWCN staff was actively communicating with the applicable federal and state agencies to determine the best course of action. SBWCN had a plan in place to safely retrieve the swans if and when it was determined they were in danger. The team was awaiting advice from an additional expert with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the time Animal Rescue Team (ART) was capturing the swans on Tuesday, May 4," the statement reads.

Once captured, the swans were reportedly transported to SBWCN to be examined by veterinarian Dr. Avery Berkowitz. After a full exam, it was determined the swans were in good general health and ART transported them to a private home whose residents prefer to remain anonymous.

"Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network’s primary concern was the health and safety of the swans, and staff worked with ART throughout this process to ensure the best outcome for these animals," the statement reads.

Whether the swans should have been rescued or should have been left alone appears to be up for debate. 

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 May 3, 2021: Black Swans in the Santa Barbara Harbor

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111 Comments

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Ahchooo May 13, 2021 02:20 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

According to the Montecito Journal article, the swans wings had not been clipped, which is the usual procedure with pet swans, to keep them from flying off. They implied that the new owners will be doing that. I’d prefer they didn’t. If they provide a good environment, wouldn’t the swans come “home” if they liked it there? Seems wrong not to let birds fly.

MarcelK May 15, 2021 11:25 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Threats-to-Wildlife/Invasive-Species "An invasive species can be any kind of living organism—an amphibian (like the cane toad), plant, insect, fish, fungus, bacteria, or even an organism’s seeds or eggs—that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm. They can harm the environment, the economy, or even human health. Species that grow and reproduce quickly, and spread aggressively, with potential to cause harm, are given the label “invasive.”" -- So these black swans are not an invasive species.

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 11:47 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Plus look, if these other comments are to be belived, people have been seeing them flying all over the area. aka INVASIVE

Z May 13, 2021 02:39 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Leave the birds alone. Thursday last week, around noon, I saw three black swans flying down the Santa Ynez River slough at Ocean Beach Park. They were definitely not in distress and apparently not looking for a private owner.

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 09:57 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

You 100% did not see them flying. They are not native to here. They are found in Australia, and in freshwater. Why would anyone want more invasive species here??

hz May 13, 2021 02:56 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

it the birds seemed happy and not in distress..they should have been left alone...other black swans have been sighted..who knows, this might just be a natural evolution or like the parrots of san franciso...a flock of black swans adapting to living wild and free...so now they are privately owned..possibly clipping wings so they become an ornament in some rich persons private estate! :0{ how much did they donate for the swans!!!!

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 09:58 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Yes as they should be. They are not native here and have no business being in the wild. All they will do is damage the ecosystem

a-1620943262 May 13, 2021 03:01 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

The California Fish and Wildlife revoked the license of di Sieno's Animal Rescue Team in 2019. It has not been restored - the agency is not listed on the state website; perhaps di Sieno is now an employee or volunteer with the SBWCN?

What right does she have to "rescue" these birds and transfer them to a private property and refuse to say where they have gone? I agree it seems wrong to prevent these birds from flying. Hopefully, the state agency should step in and determine what should have been done and should be done in future situations and, hopefully, free these birds or returning them to the original owner.

sacjon May 13, 2021 03:20 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Why couldn't they leave them alone? Why does some crazy rich white lady always need to "save" something?

SBTownie May 13, 2021 05:30 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I agree. This story is insane. I support SBWCN financially and I believe they acted correctly here. This other group, ART, basically stole wild animals (they still seem wild even if non-native, like a billion other species including the honeybee or the sparrow) to give to some person as pets? A big WTF.

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 10:07 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Are you kidding?? Why would you want to add more invasive species here??

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 10:23 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

They would have become an invasive species if nothing was done. had they not gone to someone's home they would have been destroyed. They have no business being in saltwater and especially anywhere outside of Australia

NostraChumash May 13, 2021 04:04 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I thought the Bird-refuge was our
"welcome" mat to migrating birds?..
I realize that these swans are Aussies,
but so are the eucs, stone pines & the myriad of other visitors.

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 09:58 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Ya so why would you want to add anymore invasive species. go to the zoo if you want to see black swans

NostraChumash May 15, 2021 11:16 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

90% of what one sees in Ca is an "invasive"species..including yourselves.
Australia is also surrounded by saltwater..
Are there Black swans at the zoo?..then I may surmise that they infact DO belong in Ca.

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 11:39 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Ya you know why they belong at the zoo? their wings are clipped and they can't escape. Why do you want to add more foreign species to the environment. Your only excuse is that you want to look at them. Go to the zoo

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 12:31 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

well now is not the time for these swans to become the most recent invasive species

NostraChumash May 15, 2021 12:59 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Edney..
I see how you tried to "spin" that one, but no..
The arrival of indigenous peoples to this continent
( which you may want to review the latest findings), was not invasive, or an invasion.
Quite the opposite in fact & historically.
Indigenous Peoples have been shown to improve the areas we inhabit, & leave them for the better.

NostraChumash May 15, 2021 01:04 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Not true..
Native Peoples have been shown throughout history, to leave our inhabited areas better than we find them.
We are/were, neither invasive or invading.

Minibeast May 13, 2021 04:31 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

This action by De Sieno and ART is a foul act. It is a prime example of disdain for the natural order of things masquerading as "the best of intentions." Because the swans were remarkable, deemed to be out-of-place and non-native, they were targeted for removal. The Santa Barbara Harbor notoriously contains all manner of harmful chemically polluted water, yet you don't see anyone down there collecting Pied-billed grebes or Snowy egrets or Great blue herons or Gulls and rehoming them (ostensibly) for their own safety and well-being.--------------- If the new "owners" have any compassion and are of good conscience, they will allow the swans' wings (if clipped) to grow out and give the birds the freedom to stay or go. ------ Ms. Di Sieno and ART, as a staunch animal rights activist I say this to you: "Please do the right thing. Make sure the Black swans are allowed their freedom. It's not too late to rectify your mistake."

Roger May 13, 2021 05:22 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I don't think it's cool to clip their wings what is up with that? Leave them be maybe we ought to just start clipping other peoples wings...

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 10:00 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Why the hell not. If their wings were clipped this issue would have never happened. They are not native here and have no business being here

SBTownie May 13, 2021 05:31 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I saw some of these flying over Butterfly Beach recently. Julia Di Sieno sounds like a criminal stealing wildlife for private gain.

SBTownie May 13, 2021 05:33 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Edhat has published stories on Di Sieno in the past: https://www.edhat.com/news/wildlife-rescuer-arrested-again-over-feud-with-neighbors

a-1620954345 May 13, 2021 06:05 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Another selfish decision by DiSieno who lost her permit, was arrested several times for numerous reasons, hit a neighbor with her vehicle, had firearms taken away blah blah blah - accused neighbors of poisoning wildlife but was proven wrong-she is a wack job all about attention and being on the news. Go away. Stop interfering. Leave the wildlife alone.

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 10:09 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

this is not wildlife. this is the start of a new invasive species taking hold. They should have been destroyed if nobody claimed them

MarcelK May 15, 2021 11:35 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

"this is not wildlife" -- false. " this is the start of a new invasive species taking hold" -- false. "They should have been destroyed if nobody claimed them" -- immoral.

yacht rocked May 13, 2021 06:19 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Funny how they worried about the swans being in an unhealthy environment, yet they do nothing about all the gulls and pelicans exposed to the same dangers day after day. I sense species prejudice and animal discrimination! ;-)

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 10:01 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Are you kidding?? aside from not being native to anywhere close to us, they are also a freshwater species. Theres photos of these swans trying to drink from the exhaust of lil boats looking for drinking water

JB86 May 13, 2021 06:39 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Why did the Harbor Patrol let this group kidnap the swans? They should have been on the scene and stopped this action and called in State Fish and Wildlife officers. Total screw-up. The state should track them down, cite the people keeping them, as well as the nut-case who led the kidnapping, and care for the birds with an AUTHORIZED animal rescue group, after which they should be released.
Wildlife simply don't need the kind of 'help' the ART group provided.

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 10:09 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

The crime was that these birds wings were not clipped. It would be so easy for these to take hold and become another invasive species for our ecosystem to deal with

Roger May 13, 2021 08:29 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

The new owners? Someone kidnapped the swans from themselves not right that is not right at all gonna stick them in their zoo for entertainment and parties poor swans selfish people.

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 10:03 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Thats fine. These swans can cause so much damage to our ecosystem why do you want another invasive species to take hold

a-1620964165 May 13, 2021 08:49 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Did the Wildlife Care Network agree to make the swans captives by placing them with people who will clip their wings? If so, I’ll need a pretty good explanation before I donate any more money to them. I realize that the swans aren’t native, but there doesn’t seem to be fear of them disrupting our ecosystem, so I think they should be free.

Basil May 14, 2021 05:32 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

SBWCN was told by the State of California that if the birds were captured they could not be returned to the wild, which I think is why they were monitoring the birds but hadn't captured them.

a-1621066594 May 15, 2021 01:16 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Please review the article carefully. One board member does NOT control the activities of a non-profit. Wildlife Care Network did NOT seize the birds. Their vet did examine them. One board member seems to have supported the action, which she can do as a citizen, and the action was not done by Wildlife Care Network.
I hope you read this message, and the available info, and pause and think it through.

"An article published by the Montecito Journal and written by Gretchen Lieff (writer and Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network board member) and Nick Masuda, states the Animal Rescue Team led by Julia Di Sieno captured the five black swans. "

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 10:04 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

That is so incredibly naive of you to think they won't damage the ecosystem. It won't take long at all. I would have avoccated killing them if they weren't going to someones zoo

bft4me May 13, 2021 09:31 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Maybe the ones who need rescuing are those of us who got exposed to this moronic calamity of self servers who think they know what nature wants?

a-1621066756 May 15, 2021 01:19 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I got that, the first time I read it. ;-) But minds like walls, no?

AwareHuman May 14, 2021 01:29 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

What can WE do about this egregious removal? Maybe have C.J. Ward investigate ?

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