Utrecht mute swans get reprieve from court, not enough evidence of crop damage

Photo: Johan van Buren
Photo: Johan van Buren

A controversial cull of mute swans in the province of Utrecht has been called off because there is not enough proof the animals have been damaging crops, judges have decided.

The licence to cull the swans, which was to come into effect on December 1, was successfully challenged by animal rights organisations.

The swans were accused of causing damage to crops by grazing but the court agreed that the provincial authorities had provided insufficient evidence to show this is the case. Until they do, no swans will be shot, local broadcaster RTV Utrecht said.

The mute swan is a protected species under a European directive and can only be culled if it cannot be persuaded to move elsewhere.

The animal rights organisations also argued that the mute swan can often be found with other protected species which can also end up killed or disturbed by the cull. That argument was dismissed by the court because it fell outside the remit.

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