Putnam Township is taking measures to reclaim their part of Portage Lake from an invasive waterfowl.

The Board of Trustees listened to a presentation on the dangers that the overpopulated mute swan is posing to both humans and wetland habitats at their regular meeting Wednesday night. Mute swans are not native to Michigan and were introduced back in 1919. There were less than 50 in the state in the 1960’s according to a representative from the Portage, Base, and Whitewood Owner’s Association, who held the presentation. As of 2010, however, their numbers had swelled to over 15,500. Mute swans are highly territorial and aggressive, and pose a serious danger to native loons and trumpeter swans, both of which are threatened species.

Mute swans can be identified by their curved neck, a bump on their bill, and an orange coloring on the bills of males. Trumpeter swans have straight necks and black bills. A single mute swan consumes 4 to 8 pounds of plants a day, which can potentially destroy a wetland ecosystem. Township Supervisor Dennis Brennan told WHMI that he lives on a lake and that they’ve come after him. He said, “I’ve actually been attacked by one. They didn’t get me, but they came at my head so I know how aggressive they are and they are multiplying like crazy on our lakes.”

Treasurer Pat Carney and Trustee Norm Klein also had stories of mute swans being either aggressive at them or at people they know. The board approved by a 6-1 margin a resolution to allow the DNR to begin taking measures at culling their numbers down into the 2,000-range statewide. They will do this by killing adults and removing their nests and eggs. The board felt confident that the DNR knows how to do this as humanely as possible.

With Hamburg Township approving a similar resolution last week, members of the presentation committee said they will visit the two remaining townships that have a stake in Portage Lake, Dexter and Webster Townships next week. The project is being funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and will not cost the township or its residents anything.(MK)