By ERICA HAMLING
Capital News Service
LANSING — Officials want the public to help kill 13,500 mute swans. But before hunters and fearful lakefront property owners grab their rifles, defenders who hope to save the birds want more research. The mute swan is non-native to North America, and it’s increasing in population by 9 to 10 percent each year. And that’s causing big problems, according to Barbara Avers, a waterfowl and wetlands specialist at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). One question is whether these lake dwellers are being confused with swans that are native to Michigan, says Karen Stamper, a mute swan advocate from Walled Lake.