Lonely Swan Must Hang On 'Til Next Year

The legislature decides not to act on the merits of a new mate.

This past weekend was the deadline for most bills in Olympia to be voted out of committee. Those that didn't make it died on the vine, at least for now. So despite the tearful hearings, public appeals, and lobbying, the legislature will not even vote on the assault-rifle ban, legalizing pot, or workers' compensation reform.But those are the more celebrated measures. Plenty of other bills died in near-obscurity during the 2011 legislative session.For example: More than 20 years ago, a resident of Sylvia Lake, near Tacoma, received two beautiful white swans, Prince and Princess, as a gift. Known as mute swans, both had been neutered, and their wings had been clipped to prevent flight.Their job, in addition to making the lakefront homes even more picturesque, was to chase away Canada geese. As anyone who lives anywhere near a lawn can tell you, that bird's turds are as big as dogs', and a flock can cover a football field with crap overnight.Princess died in 2007, and Sylvia Lake residents would have liked to replace her. But they were thwarted by a ban on importing the animals instituted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1991. Apparently, the aggression that keeps geese away also makes swans dangerous to people and pets. And plants! According to the Department, swans eat up to eight pounds of vegetation a day.With the help of Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Tacoma), Sylvia Lake residents tried to get the ban overturned, but, like the swans themselves, his bill did not fly. Also grounded for now: a bill to stop calling kids in government programs "at-risk" or "disadvantaged," instead referring to them as "kids at hope"; and a bid to get Washington to recognize October 9 as Leif Ericson Day.Prince will now have to wait until 2011 for a chance to get a new mate. That is, unless the Governor calls a special 30-day session, which would be unexpected for swans.

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