MEDIA RELEASE: Harassed Swan Family Spared by USDA But Permanent Protections Are Needed 

MEDIA RELEASE: Harassed Swan Family Spared by USDA But Permanent Protections Are Needed 

Greenwood Lake, N.Y./N.J. (Sept 22, 2020) — In Defense of Animals is applauding the outcome for a family of swans living in Greenwood Lake who were in danger of being killed by the government at the request of the Greenwood Lake Commission. However, more needs to be done to ensure their safety in the future.  

Over the past several months, jet skiers and others have harassed, chased, and attempted to drown a family of seven swans in this 9-mile, which intersects the border of New York and New Jersey. The wild animals have even been attacked with paintball guns and air horns.

When the male swan acted to defend himself and his family, complaints were made about his “aggressiveness” to the Greenwood Lake Commission, which in turn called the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to perform an assessment. It was feared this would result in their deaths, however, they were assessed and determined not to be “aggressive.” 

Thousands of In Defense of Animals supporters have written to Greenwood Lake Commission calling for stricter enforcement against tourists who harass wildlife including jet skiers (pictured). CREDIT Joyce Danheim

“We’re very relieved by the outcome here, but it should never have come to this. This swan family was clearly being harassed by visitors to this lake, and they have every right to defend themselves in their own home,” said Lisa Levinson of In Defense of Animals. “It’s unfortunate that the Greenwood Lake Commission called in the USDA. Now there’s an opportunity to enact meaningful changes for these swans and other waterfowl to prevent future conflicts.”

In Defense of Animals is urging the Greenwood Lake Commission to implement non-lethal measures to ensure the safety of these swans and other waterfowl living in Greenwood Lake.

To prevent future conflicts, the Greenwood Lake Commission is being urged to:

  • Install “Do Not Harass Waterfowl” signs at marinas.
  • Enact fines for harassing waterfowl and notify local accommodation providers.
  • Enforce the no-wake zone.
  • Implement police, coast guard, and state police patrols at key harassment sites (Storm Island and South Shore).
  • Inform the community via media releases, Facebook alerts and the Greenwood Lake Commission Link (text messaging system).
  • Set up a community group to report waterfowl harassment.

In Defense of Animals is offering to pay for signage to protect wild animals at Greenwood Lake marinas.

“Our supporters feel strongly about protecting wild animals from abuse and that includes Greenwood Lake’s swan family,” said Fleur Dawes, of In Defense of Animals. “That is why In Defense of Animals is offering funding to Greenwood Lake Commission so it can uphold its duty to honor the swans and protect their right to live free from further harassment.”

More than 4,000 people signed In Defense of Animals’ alert asking the Greenwood Lake Commission and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer to work with the local community, politicians, and law enforcement to employ a peaceful and comprehensive protection plan to prevent conflicts in the future. 

Concerned members of the public are being urged to take action here:


Contact: Lisa Levinson, In Defense of Animals,, 215-620-2130


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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-year history of fighting for animals, people and the environment through education, campaigns and hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.

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