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City Park might add two swans

May 08, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

Two more swans might join the large population of ducks and geese living at City Park.

"The public likes seeing them," Parks Superintendent Junior Mason said. "I think they're a nice addition to the park."

City officials have kept swans at the park for more than 30 years, and Mason said there are two there now. He said some have died of old age, and new swans were purchased.

The male and female at City Park could be joined by another pair this summer.

A pair of swans costs about $750, Mason said, and there also is a small cost to feed them over the winter, along with some fees for veterinarian care.

"We do have them fixed, and have their wings clipped so they don't fly away," he said.

The swans are taken to the veterinarian for care about once per year, unless officials notice a problem with the fowl. Baby swans have been born at City Park, but not for many years, Mason said.

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He said caring for the swans costs the city about $200 per year.

In addition to the two swans, Mason said there are 200 to 300 ducks, and nearly 150 geese at City Park.

"The swans, we put here, but the geese and ducks just fly in and out," he said. "The city likes to have them there, as long as we keep the population to a reasonable number."

Mason said the population at the park now is reasonable, but it may soon require some control.

When the number of ducks and geese at the park becomes excessive, Mason said the city hires a company that brings a Border collie to the park to scare the fowl. Often the ducks and geese, which are fed by park visitors, become comfortable there and numbers grow, resulting in overcrowding.

"The collie doesn't hurt them, he just chases them so they get frustrated and leave," Mason said.

Typically, the collie is used to chase the animals away several times each year. Mason said he did not have the cost of this service readily available.

"We like them, we want them here, but there is some maintenance that goes along with them," Mason said.

City workers are tasked with cleaning up their droppings from the park walkways.

"And also, they sure do eat a lot of grass," he said.

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