Follow a stream or river on Long Island and you will undoubtedly run across a dam or two. Beaver Lake is a result of a dam. Two streams run into Beaver Lake: Kaintuck Creek and Beaver Brook. Kaintuck has at least two dams on it of which I am aware. There are probably more. On Beaver Brook there is one at Frost Mill Road (Lower Francis Pond), the dam at Upper Francis Pond, and one more at the intersection of Oyster Bay Road and Beaver Brook. Among the tiny tributaries that feed into Beaver Brook within the Shu Swamp Nature Preserve there are three and possibly more that are on private property. So that’s a grand total of nine dams for a fairly small watershed! Now think about not just one watershed on Long Island, but the entire island, and even further, the entire US:
A few months I wrote a post (A Dysfunctional Chain of Being: Swans, Canada Geese, Snapping Turtles and Raccoons) that was in part about the invasive swan controversy. I have been sympathetic to the recent efforts to eliminate swans from New York due to their potential to cause serious harm to aquatic habitats and their aggressive nature towards other nesting aquatic waterfowl. You see, my opinion is shaped by a scientific consideration of the facts, unlike those people who are guided by an emotional attachment to a beautiful animal, right?
Well I came face to face with my superior sense of rationality yesterday when I discovered a very sick cygnet at Shu Swamp.
Cygnet at Shu Swamp
Right before catching the swan
I transported the swan in a cooler to Volunteers for Wildlife.
I had just finished changing the batteries at the LIRR bridge antenna and was on my way back when I spied the distressed swan. I had seen the parents leave the pond just moments ago, which I found odd since as far as I know swan parents don’t leave their babies. When I approached the cygnet it was clear that something was wrong, although I could see no visible wounds. It was just so listless.
Whatever my feelings about general ecological destructiveness of swans, I wasn’t going to let this helpless animal suffer. Fortunately, Volunteers for Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation center, is located at nearby Bailey Arboretum. With the help of a family visiting the preserve, I threw a rain poncho over the cygnet and then picked it up and placed it in a cooler I had in my car. Five minutes later I dropped him off at Bailey. I found out today that the swan has a deep laceration in its foot (although I never saw any blood) and is on its way to the vet to have it checked out. Whatever happens I am sure the Volunteers will do the right thing and at the very least this poor creature won’t suffer.