Over a Dozen Dead Swans Feared Poisoned at Michigan Lake

Animal rights group PETA is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the deaths of multiple swans at a lake in Waterford, Michigan.

Residents living near Maceday Lake have reported finding several dead swans in the area recently, and studies have suggested they may have been poisoned.

One resident, Heidi Greshem, told 7 Action News on Monday this week: "In the last 10 days, I've seen five swans in the bay and three in front of my home… all dead."

Outlets are reporting various total fatality counts. On Tuesday, Fox 2 Detroit reported there were possibly up to 12 dead mute swans found in 2021 alone, while PETA said that same day there had been nearly 20 swans killed since January. WXYZ Detroit reported that some had counted up to two dozen dead to date.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has recovered several of the dead swans and at least one has been tested for poison. Lt. Todd Szyska, an officer from the department, told Fox 2 Detroit: "From the initials on that, it was saying it was antifreeze.

"My plea is to the public that's around Maceday Lake, if someone is poisoning them, if that is really what is going on, if anybody can call and give any information they might have on this."

The test that found an indication of antifreeze poisoning was conducted by an independent lab and was funded by local residents.

Szyska added that laboratory testing on the swans the DNR collected is being carried out by Michigan State University and that results are expected in about a week. The test will help determine whether or not the swans were poisoned.

Speaking to WXYZ Detroit, Szyska said that if the swans were intentionally poisoned, then whoever was responsible could face charges. All wild swans are protected in Michigan, and hunting them is illegal in the state.

Mute swans were introduced to North America in the mid-1800s, and Michigan has the highest population of them in that part of the world, according to Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

They are native to Europe and parts of Asia. Males typically weigh between 20 and 25 pounds, and females are slightly smaller. Their wingspans are typically seven to eight feet for adults.

Stephanie Bell, PETA senior director, said in a statement: "These swans deserved to live peacefully with their families, but instead, they likely died in agony.

"PETA urges anyone with information about this case to come forward immediately, before anyone else gets hurt."

Mute swan
A mute swan pictured in Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom. The animals were introduced to the United States well over a century ago. Tim Graham/Getty