Published June 20, 2006[ From the Lansing State Journal ]
Schneider: DNR optimistic about finding swan attackers
HASLETT - The man in charge of the investigation into last week's possible killing of two baby swans on Lake Lansing said Monday he is "optimistic" about an arrest and successful prosecution.
"We've narrowed it down to a few suspects," said Alan Marble, chief of law enforcement for the state Department of Natural Resources.
"Terrific assistance" from witnesses is moving the case toward a speedy resolution, he said.
Proving the cygnets are dead won't be necessary to the prosecution, Marble explained, because it's also a misdemeanor to "molest or harass" wildlife.
In fact, the maximum penalty is the same - 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. The only difference is that a person convicted of killing the birds would have to pay restitution of $100 per bird.
As I wrote Friday, the birth of three cygnets this spring to a pair of breeding adults was an unusual and much-celebrated event among the wildlife watchers who live on the lake.
But on June 12, two residents watched in horror, they said, as a power boat with three or four teenagers in it circled the swans several times before plowing through the group, which included the three cygnets and one adult bird.
According to both witnesses, who watched from two different spots on the shore, the attack was obviously deliberate.
Since then, only one of the cygnets has been seen with the adult swans, leading lake residents to conclude that the other two are dead.
Members of the Lake Lansing Property Owners Association have anted up $1,000 as a reward for information leading to arrest of the perpetrators.
Many readers expressed dismay over the alleged assault on the birds.
Throw the book at 'em
• From D. Bauman of Lansing Township: "Find the hoodlums who attacked those baby swans, and take away their boating privileges. Ban them from the lake, and make each of them pay the whole $1,000 fine."
• From Dolores Carpenter of DeWitt Township: "I am shocked by the senseless attack. Even though I am a hunter, I believe in conservation and ethics.
"Michigan poaching laws include the confiscation of any equipment (including vehicles) involved in any act of poaching. It is a shame that the same does not apply to the killing of protected animals.
"I hope these punks are caught and punished to the full extent. No plea bargains here; it's time to set an example."
• From Matthew Zarb of Lansing: "I was sickened by this senseless act of violence against harmless animals.
"I pray that the culprits are found, arrested, convicted and receive the maximum penalty."
• But Chris Farougi, who has lived on the lake for 23 years, cautioned against a "vigilante" attitude.
"Whoa! Slow down," Farougi wrote. "This new crowd gets carried away too easily.
"About the only things missing are the tar and feathers.
"Did the boat really kill a swan? Where's the body? There are no alligators or sharks in Lake Lansing - nothing big enough to eat a cygnet in one or two bites. No one has reported seeing the bodies. Isn't that strange?"
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