The town of Manlius has been home to the swan pond since 1905, where the birds have been cared for by the townspeople, including the late swan mother named Faye, who is owned by the village.
The swans are so significant to the town that they are included in the insignia on the town's website and in its identity. Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall said, "The swans have been a part of this village for well over 100 years. ... We're known for our swans."
The teens, identified as 18-year-old Eman Hassan and two others aged 16 and 17, allegedly climbed the metal fence surrounding the pond and entered the preserve on Monday between midnight and 3 a.m.
The trio claimed they were "hunting," although poaching swans are illegal in the state. The teens allegedly attacked Faye as she was nesting, held her down, and killed her. They then took the dead mother swan and her four cygnets back to one of their residences, where the aunt of one of the teens prepared the bird for consumption.
Manlius police Sgt. Ken Hatter noted that the Village of Manlius is one of the only entities in New York that has a permit to house, maintain, own, and transport the swans, and they cannot be removed from their location legally. The teens were charged with grand larceny in the third degree, a class D felony, conspiracy in the fifth, and criminal trespass in the third.
The Town of Manlius Police Department announced on Tuesday that the four stolen cygnets had been found and placed in the care of a biologist tasked with ensuring the health and well-being of the swans for the village. Two cygnets were found with two suspects at the Black Friday Bins, a store at the Shop City Plaza in the Town of Salina, where one of the teens was employed. The other two cygnets were located at a residence in Syracuse.
Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall expressed his sadness over the incident, saying, "The mother swan was consumed. ... Sad to say, but that's what they did." He added that the swans have "been ours forever. And we will continue. The public needs to know that this is not ending. We will continue to have swans and hopefully, at some point get back to normal."