The central Swiss canton of Nidwalden has received approval to cull swans under strict conditions. Authorities claim that the growing population of birds poses a risk to local aircraft flights.
The federal government approval for the culling measure is valid for five years and applies to the entire canton even though the swan problem only affects the Buochs regional airport. Pilots sometimes have to interrupt a landing or take-off because of swans crossing the runway.
Local authorities had tried a series of measures like taking away the eggs prior to hatching or occasional shooting of birds. However, none of these was successful in limiting the population. An adult swan lays up to five eggs per year and can live up to 20 years.
The new authorisation to shoot the birds must comply with strict conditions. The number of animals should not fall below 15 in the area surrounding the airport. The culling must also be done before the breeding season commences.
Four years ago, Nidwalden resorted to occasionally shooting swans in Buochs. The measure was strongly condemned at the time by environmental groups.