The swan, Faye, and her four babies, called cygnets, were reported missing from their usual pond in Manlius, a Syracuse suburb, on Monday.
As the Manlius Police Department investigated the disappearance, they arrested a group of three teens on Tuesday — ages 16, 17 and 18 — who they claim abducted the swan. The group was handed felony charges of grand larceny and criminal mischief and misdemeanour charges of conspiracy and criminal trespassing.
Police Sgt. Ken Hatter said the group claimed to be “hunting” and told police they thought the swan was a duck. During a press conference Wednesday, Hatter said the teens hopped a fence into Manlius Swan Pond “in the middle of the night.” The teens were able to capture the swan and her cygnets while they were nesting.
Faye was killed at the pond, Hatter said.
Afterward, the swan’s body was brought to the home of one of the teen’s relatives and was cooked.
“Family and friends did consume the adult swan,” Hatter said at the press conference. “Sad to say, but that’s what they did.”
The four cygnets have all been found safe.
Two of the babies were found after several citizens identified them in a store in the nearby town of Salina and tipped off police. One of the teens was an employee at the unidentified store and confessed to abducting the swan and cygnets with two other people.
The two other cygnets were found in a private residence in Syracuse, police said.
One of the teens told police they’d intended to keep the cygnets as pets.
The 18-year-old suspect has been arraigned and released from police custody on their own recognizance. The other two minors were released to their parents.
The cygnets are currently in the care of a local biologist, who is tasked with maintaining the health and well-being of the swans in Manlius.
Faye’s mate, a swan named Manny, is expected to be moved from Manlius Swan Pond because the birds can experience deep grief when their partner dies, as they often mate for life. Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall said at the press conference Wednesday that Manny could become “combative” when the cygnets are eventually returned to the pond without Faye.
Whorrall said swans have been iconic residents of Manlius since 1905. Faye and Manny had lived at the town pond for over a decade.
Hunting swans is legal in some U.S. states, but it is illegal in New York. In Canada, all swan species are protected under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.
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