It was a shocker for residents of Manlius, an upstate New York village, to have woken up to the news of three teenagers stealing Faye, a white long-necked bird who had been a fixture at a fenced-in pond owned by the village, reported The New York Times on Friday.
The boys had killed her and then eaten her.
Sergeant Ken Hatter of the Manlius Police Department said, "They prepared a feast. They did not have any idea the significance of the swans had on this community or that the swans are owned by the village."
He added, "They believed it was just a very large duck. They did not know it was a swan, and they did not know it was not a wild animal."
According to the officials, the teenage boys jumped over a fence surrounding Goose Lake Park on Saturday midnight. Faye was nesting by Manlius Swan Pond at the time.
Two of them held down the swan to capture her, and then the three killed her, said Sergeant Hatter. The boys also stole four alive cygnets, or baby swans, leaving Manny, Faye's longtime mate, behind, according to NYT.
The three then brought the birds to the residence of a relative of one of the teens, where the swan, according to the police, was prepared and enjoyed with family and friends.
Captain Tina Stanton of the Manlius Police Department said after the swans were reported missing on Monday, suggestions from neighbourhood residents helped them find the four cygnets, who are still alive, and then the three accused teens.
18-year-old Eman Hussen is a resident of Syracuse, New York, and two other juveniles, whose identities were withheld due to their age, were charged with felony charges of grand larceny and criminal mischief. They were also accused on misdemeanour counts of criminal trespassing and stealing conspiracy.
The younger teenagers, who are 16 and 17, were to be arraigned on Thursday, as per NYT.
However, it is unclear if the teenagers have access to lawyers.
Hussen did not respond to reporters when he was arrested on Thursday and was seen smiling ashe was being led to a police vehicle in handcuffs.
Manlius, a community of around 4,000 people southeast of Syracuse, New York, where swans had lived since 1905, was shaken by the news of Faye's murder. The swans are greatly loved by the locals, who frequently stop by to visit Faye, who was donated to the town in 2010 when she was 16 years old, according to Sergeant Hatter. She and her partner Manny had been residing by the pond for almost ten years.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, mute swans like Faye were imported to the United States from Europe in the late 1800s. The government estimates there are roughly 2,000 mute swans in New York.
Sergeant Hatter also said Manlius is one of the few entities in New York State that has a permit allowing it to keep, breed, care for, and own mute swans.
Why the teens chose to devour Faye was a mystery.
The reason wasn't a lack of food, according to Sergeant Hatter. "They were out hunting," The New York Times reported. (ANI)