By Zenebou Sylla, CNN
(CNN) — Three teenagers have been arrested in connection with killing and “consuming” a beloved swan in a Syracuse, New York, suburb, and stealing four young swans this week, police said.
A mature female swan named Faye and her four young swans, also known as cygnets, were reported missing from the swan pond Monday, police in the village of Manlius said.
On Tuesday, authorities received tips that two of the cygnets were at a discount store in a nearby town, where one of the suspects worked, Manlius Police Captain Tina Stanton said during a Wednesday news conference. More information then led police to a second location where the remaining cygnets were found, Stanton said.
An 18-year-old and two other juveniles – aged 16 and 17 – are facing several charges, including grand larceny in the third degree, criminal mischief in the second degree, conspiracy in the fifth degree and criminal trespassing in the third degree, Manlius Police Sgt. Ken Hatter said during the news conference. The three suspects surrendered to police Tuesday.
The three friends, who attend the same high school, hopped over the fence surrounding the swan pond in the middle of the night, Hatter said. Two of the suspects held down Faye and captured her; she was killed at the pond and did not fight back because she was nesting, Hatter added.
“The family and friends did consume the adult swan,” he said.
The teenagers were not aware of Faye’s significance to the community, Hatter added, and believed they hunted a “very large duck.” One of the suspects also said they were planning to raise the cygnets as pets, Hatter said.
A biologist contracted by the village, and who helped raised Faye, is expected to care for the weeks-old cygnets for another six weeks before they are released back into the pond to take care for themselves, Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall said during the news conference.
Faye’s mate Manny – the father of the cygnets – will also be removed from the pond because there are concerns he may become “combative” after Faye’s killing and could harm the cygnets, Whorrall added, noting swans mate forever.
“This is not ending. We will continue to have swans,” Whorrall said. “We’ll let the four cygnets grow up and at that point, we are hoping that two of those cygnets will mate and we will be back to the way it used to be.”
The two juvenile suspects were released to their parents as they await their appearance in court, Manlius officials said in a news release. They are expected to appear in court Thursday and have attorneys assigned to them, Hatter told CNN. CNN has not been able to identify attorneys for the juveniles.
The 18-year-old’s next court date is June 15, Hatter said during the news conference. CNN has reached out to their attorney for comment.
Hunting swans is legal in certain states, but not in New York, according to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
“The Village of Manlius is one of the only entities in New York that has a permit to have them housed, maintained, owned, and transport, and they cannot be removed from their location legally,” Hatter said.
The swans have been in Manlius since 1905, according to Whorrall, and the village cares for and feeds them.
Whorrall also added that the pond is expected to be equipped with surveillance video to ensure the safety of the swans in the future.
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