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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Florida’s Lakeland city trying to make amends with its troubled canaries

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Lakeland, Fla., is selling some of its swans. The city of 39,000 has been mired in bad press for nearly 20 years over its bird-killing ordinances, but now officials say that it needs to be in compliance with Florida and federal laws.

“Because Lakeland City Council has become concerned about the birds in our lake and their impact on our wildlife resources, Lakeland is trying to close loopholes in existing city ordinances to achieve compliance with federal law,” the city said in a news release, WFLA News 8 reports.

The city had the time of its life in the Sun Sentinel earlier this year, when it became the centerpiece of a report from The Paper of Record that highlighted Lakeland’s 1970s ordinance that led to mass deaths of birds and a judge’s decision to ban them all together.

“No Swans in Lakeland After Decade-Long Courtship With Bird Advocates” cover story has city’s top attorney complaining that Councilwoman Laura Collins, the city’s lone dissenting vote, is being “vindictive.”

The city was also challenged in a series of April lawsuits filed by environmentalists who said the city destroyed their habitat and wildlife. “Lakeland Swans in Peril,” from The Paper of Record, heralded the city as “America’s Swans Island.”

But now the city says it will stop protecting swans but will instead try to be more sensible with how they’re engaged in the community.

The city says that it will work with local developers to have “a regulatory process that will result in the installation of state-of-the-art aviary systems, capable of managing swans and other aquatic species.”

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