3 teens charged for killing and eating Faye, beloved Manlius swan
The Onondaga County village of Manlius is boosting security in the vicinity of its swan pond, where a mother swan was killed and her four cygnets stolen over Memorial Day weekend.
Police made quick work of the case that has led to charges ranging from felonies to misdemeanors, against three Syracuse teens.
The death of a mute swan in Manlius all started, police say, with a big misunderstanding.
Three Syracuse teens decided to go hunting for duck, and happened upon Manlius’ swan pond, home to mute swans Faye and Manny and their four cygnets.
"They thought it was a duck, a really big white duck," said Manlius Police Sergeant Ken Hatter said. "They wanted that one."
The teens told Hatter they climbed over a fence, killed Faye with a knife and took her four cygnets. Ultimately, their family cooked and ate the swan and the teens planned to keep the babies as pets.
Hatter said they didn’t realize they were dealing with swans, until he told them.
"They definitely did not understand," Hatter said. Maybe part of it was cultural, part of it may be they’re children and they didn’t really grasp it. When I asked them specifically if they were going to take the four and raise them and consume them like they did with the adult, they said, 'No, you don’t raise something just to do that.'"
These weren’t just any swans. The pond in the center of Manlius has been home to swans for a century and have become a symbol for the Eastside Syracuse suburb, according to Mayor Paul Whorrall.
"It’s sad," Whorrall said. "It’s like losing a family member."
It’s not the first time this has happened. A swan was killed in the 1990s and swan eggs were stolen in 2012. Whorrall said he’s ordering cameras at the pond as soon as possible to keep the pond safe.
"We’ll be able place them at different areas of the pond and view them all day in our office," Whorrall said.
In wake of this, a petition is circulating in Manlius calling for the village to stop keeping clipped swans at the swan pond, calling their life one of isolation, harassment and torture. Whorrall said that won’t happen under his watch.
"We’ve had swans for over 100 years," Whorrall said. "We’re going to continue to have swans. It’s part of this village."
As for the legacy of Faye, the mother swan who’d lived in the pond with another swan, Manny, her mate for life since 2010, the hope is those four cygnets, currently under the care of a biologist, return when they’re older, and continue the tradition.
"The cygnets will stay there and hopefully two of them will mate," Whorrall said. "The old circle of life thing.”
In the meantime, Manny continues to watch over the pond alone, without Faye. He’ll be removed when the babies come back. Officials say he may be aggressive toward the babies when they come back because their mother is gone.