Prospect Park swans missing from lake, wildlife group says

The last four disappeared six months after seven went missing.

Six months after seven swans went missing from the Prospect Park Lake, four remaining birds have disappeared, a local wildlife group said. 

The swans — a male, female and their two juveniles — were last seen swimming together last week, said Mary Beth Artz, a wildlife rehabilitator and one of the founding members of W.I.L.D. for Prospect Park. 

But on Thursday, the male was no longer in the park and the female and two younger swans were last seen on Monday, Artz said. The group, which regularly cleans up and monitors the area around the Prospect Park Lake, has checked the ponds in nearby Greenwood Cemetery and other open water sources, but hasn’t found them. 

“I have a very strong suspicion that the male was taken out by a person,” Artz said, although the Parks Department does not believe that is the case.

“At this time, we have no reason to suspect that the swans have been removed from the park,” Parks spokeswoman Mae Ferguson said. “Flying to and from a lake is normal behavior for wild birds.”

Artz and the other members say it’s possible the female and juveniles went looking for the male after he disappeared, but it’s unlikely that the male left on his own.

“We know for sure that would not happen because swans mate for life,” Artz said. “That is the catalyst in this whole thing.”

W.I.L.D. for Prospect Park also still does not know what happened to the seven swans that were last seen at the lake in early June. They have similar suspicions about their disappearances.

“We don’t believe they would have ALL disappeared at the same time,” the group wrote on its Facebook page on June 13, days after they were last seen.

The group had reached out to other agencies, including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, after the seven went missing, Artz said. 

A DEC spokesperson repeated what the Parks Department said, noting that “all of the swans in the city parks are capable of flight and can, and do, take off for other parts of the city on occasion.”

W.I.L.D. for Prospect Park, though, is not convinced.

“We’re all beside ourselves,” Artz said. “The swans meant a lot to a lot of people and I understand that there are people that don’t like them, but they were there and they brought a lot of joy.”

The Parks Department was investigating the disappearances, Ferguson said.

Nicole Brown