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A swan’s dilemma at Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary | By David Fechter

December 7, 2020 – West Bend, WI – A song ran through my memory this morning as I watched the swans out on the almost-frozen-over lake. The song was from a 1980’s band called “The Clash.”
The lyrics from the song are, ” Should I stay or should I go now, should I stay or should I go now, if I stay there will be trouble, if I leave it will be double.”

Here is the dilemma. Someone dropped off on the lake a pinioned male mute swan. His wings were surgically altered so he can never fly. This legal requirement must be done to mute swans to own them in Wisconsin and most other States.

We, at Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary, were hoping when the lake froze over, we would capture him and put him in the zoo.

This autumn during the waterfowl migration a wild-born female mute swan landed on the lake and fell in love with the flightless male. Swans mate for life.

swan, swans

Mute swans are classified by Government Wildlife Agents as an aggressive invasive species. If found on public owned bodies of water they are exterminated.

The lake at Shalom named Ehne Lake is privately owned by four neighbors, it is a safe haven for waterfowl including these mute swans.

swan, swans

The female swan wants to continue her migration to a warmer climate. She wants her sweetheart to join her, but he cannot fly.

She takes to the air circles around and then lands back on the ice near him, confused on why he won’t follow. She has been doing this for three days now.

The female swan knows if she stays there will be trouble, because soon there will be no more open water on the lake. If she leaves, I know her trouble will double if and when she is found on public water during her migration.

Will she stay or will she go now?

Note: reprinted with permission from David Fechter.

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