(NEW YORK) — A beloved swan was reported missing from a New York state village’s pond on Monday. Three teenagers are now accused of killing the mother swan, who was then eaten, authorities said.
The three teens face felony charges in connection with the death of Faye, as well as the theft of her four cygnets — fixtures at the Manlius Swan Pond in Manlius, a southeast suburb of Syracuse, police said Wednesday.
The teens — friends from Syracuse — were arrested and charged with grand larceny and criminal mischief, both felonies, as well as conspiracy and criminal trespass, both misdemeanors, Manlius police said.
An 18-year-old suspect was arraigned and released on his own recognizance, police said. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 15. The other two suspects — a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old — were released to their parents because they are juveniles and will appear in court at a later date, according to police.
The teens allegedly hopped a fence overnight over the Memorial Day holiday weekend and captured Faye, who was nesting with her cygnets, and killed her at the pond, according to Manlius Police Sgt. Ken Hatter.
“Family and friends did consume the adult swan,” Hatter said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
The teens reportedly believed the swan was “just a very large duck,” and did not realize she was not a wild animal but property of the village of Manlius, Hatter said.
“They were hunting, is what they told us,” Hatter said.
Tips from citizens led investigators to a business at Shop City Plaza in the town of Salina, where they found two of the cygnets, police said Tuesday. The other two cygnets were subsequently found at a residence in Syracuse, police said.
The juveniles reportedly told police they wanted to raise the cygnets, which have since been turned over to a biologist, Hatter said.
Swans have been a fixture of the village since 1905, according to Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall.
A male swan named Manny, who was Faye’s mate, was unharmed in the incident. He will be removed from the pond because he could become combative due to the loss of Faye, Whorrall said, while noting that swans mate for life.
The town is looking into increasing security measures at the pond in the wake of the incident.
“We’ve had swans for over 100 years, we’re going to continue to have swans as part of this village,” Whorrall said during Wednesday’s briefing.
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