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. 

Related Articles

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

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a-1621065093 May 15, 2021 12:51 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

SBTownie, if it was a wild animal, how could its return have been :impossible to miss"?
If they're wild you shouldn't know they are there! Until they wake you by trying to get in the house or by succeeding.
It's not always appropriate to release wild animals where they were found, although that is a goal. But if an animal is brought in by a citizen who regularly traps, it makes no sense to return the animal to the same place. But many agencies do; it's recommended by science and by law.

Thank goodness litters/kits have some flexibility! At least I like to think so...

a-1621064693 May 15, 2021 12:44 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I can ASSURE YOU that we do not euthanize ANY healthy viable animal like the crows! Last year we took on over 300 crows. Sounds like we had a volunteer that misunderstood a situation. - SB Wildlife Care volunteer

a-1621064603 May 15, 2021 12:43 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Sorry, Pit.
We often agree, but you are a peculiar activist. Maybe you have deeper concerns. I think we knew each other at Count Animal Services.
Our experiences differ, often hugely. I can't give credence to your hidden, secondary allegations, that seem to have an agenda, without evidence, and I would hope no one would disparage such organizations. We've both been on the front lines. I give all the front-line volunteers, workers and activists praise.
If you lost your dog to the government, I'm deeply sorry.

a-1621064365 May 15, 2021 12:39 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I work at the SBWCN and I can ASSURE YOU that we do not euthanize ANY healthy viable animal like the crows! Last year we took on over 300 crows. Sounds like we had a volunteer that misunderstood a situation.

Zenyatta19 May 14, 2021 06:27 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I’m sorry you had that experience but I have never known SBWCN to euthanize any animal because there are “ a lot of them”, Especially crows. If that were the case they wouldn’t be necessary, because nearly all of the animals they rescue, there are a lot of. They do amazing work for all animals. It is an expensive and time consuming endeavor. With so many volunteers working and animals needing care sometimes the people fall through the cracks( not getting a phone call back). It’s not about you.

SBTownie May 14, 2021 03:34 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Pit, I would be interested to hear more and I am not saying you are wrong. I take several animals a year to WCN and donate as well. I volunteered there about 20 years ago and I literally was taking care of pigeons (does it get more common and unappreciated?) so I'm somewhat doubtful about the claims of euthanizing a crow but now you have me concerned. We had an incident with an animal this year that I was told was doing fine upon intake yet was never returned to our area (it would have been impossible to miss). So hearing your comments I now find myself wondering what goes on there...

Bird May 14, 2021 02:16 PM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Animal Rescue Team is NOT listed as a Fish and Wildlife accredited wildlife facility. They lost that accreditation several years ago. The only one listed in SB County is the SBWCN; odd that they could cooperate with di Sieno. https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Laboratories/Wildlife-Investigations/Rehab/Facilities.

Roger May 14, 2021 09:33 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I have called Wildlife Care before probably at least a dozen times every time I have called to check on an animal I had picked up they always told me the outcome. I have heard nothing but positive things about them. I have heard County Animal Control calls where animals were dropped off to them for care.. People can say what they want about them but I won't believe it..I got a call last week from a real angry person accusing me and Edhat about saying they killed one of these swans I'm starting to wander now bunch of weirdos in this town..

PitMix May 14, 2021 08:36 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

I've heard plenty of negative comments about WCN. And personally, when I took an injured bird to them, they said they would let me know the outcome. When I called in I never got a call back. And a vol there told me that if you bring in a common wild animal like a crow, they normally just euthanize it because there are a bunch out there and they don't want to spend their resources on an animal like that. Should I go on?

Rinconer May 14, 2021 07:04 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Stealing is stealing even when you call it rescuing. I loved seeing the Black Swans free at the Harbor, but now they’ve been birdnapped, held hostage at a private residence, and had their wings clipped.
If you pretend you’re helping you can get away with a lot, especially if there’s no one around with critical thinking skills.

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 ?

JonStowe1 May 15, 2021 10:20 AM
The Great Black Swan Debate

Are you kidding?? these swans had to go. they would only cause problems

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?

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-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.

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

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. "

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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."

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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 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

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?

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

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??

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