The village of Manlius in upstate New York is mourning the loss of Faye, a swan who was stolen from the town's pond over the weekend along with her four cygnets. The cygnets, or baby swans, were recovered, but officials say the mama swan was eaten.
“The mother swan was consumed,” Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall said Wednesday. “Sad to say, but that's what they did.”
Three teenagers were arrested Tuesday on charges including grand larceny and criminal mischief in connection with the swan-napping, Manlius police Sgt. Ken Hatter said.
Mute swans like Faye and her mate, Manny, are not native to North America. They were introduced as an ornamental species and are loved for their beauty but are considered invasive by wildlife officials.
Hunting swans is legal in a few U.S. states but not in New York.
Southeast of Syracuse, the village of Manlius has a swan insignia on its website, as well as on merchandise like hats and T-shirts.
“The swans have been a part of this village for well over 100 years,” Whorrall said. “We're known for our swans.”
For over a decade, Faye and Manny swanned about in the village pond, and each spring hatched and raised cygnets. In 2010, they were donated by biologist and self-described "swan guru” Michael Bean.
Police said Faye and this year's cygnets went missing on Saturday, but that officials weren't notified until Monday.
After notice went out of the missing Manlius birds, a concerned citizen spotted two of baby swans in a store in nearby Salina and called authorities, Hatter said.
One of the suspects who worked at the store confessed to taking part in the crime, along with the two other teenagers, police said. The remaining two swans were found at the first suspect's Syracuse home, they said.
The young swans will be cared for and returned to the pond in a few weeks when they are old enough to survive on their own, Hatter said, but Faye won't return to the pond. She was given to a relative to cook.
“They brought it back to an aunt's house and the aunt prepared it,” he said.
Two of the suspects, aged 16 and 17, were released to their parents because they are juveniles, police said. The third, who is 18, is awaiting arraignment. Information on their attorneys wasn’t available.
Karen Matthews, The Associated Press