There's much ado about mute swans along the Portage Lakes, and their human neighbors don't want to see them disappear.
The Ohio Department of Wildlife, in a federal program, has reduced the mute swan population to under a half dozen on the Lakes.
That's what Liesje Grob, who lives on the West Reservoir, estimates is left of the mute swans.
"I don't know anyone that doesn't love the swans. They're beautiful. As far as I can see they are harmless," Grob tells AkronNewsNow. "If they, sometimes, and I think they have...I know my dentist said one jumped on his Jet Ski, he thought it was funny. They don't have teeth, so they're big, but the Canadian Geese do the same thing."
Add Helen Nitzche to that nest. She has numerous tales to tell about the relationship she and husband Bob Nitzche shared with a particular pair of mute swans that they named Fred and Ethel. Nitzche lived in Firestone Park for 30 years - not a mecca to swans, so she was hesitant at first to interact with the birds. Then, a trust developed and evolved to the point that Fred and Ethel made trips across the lake from their island home to show Helen and Bob their babies.
"They were very proud parents," said Nitzche. "I really wish the state really understood the bird for what it really is and the benefits that it has for the water. There's nothing more elegant or beautiful than a swan. There just isn't."
Scott Peters might also think they're beautiful, but the wildlife supervisor for the Akron office of the Ohio Division of Wildlife does have a different perspective, as outlined in the state's Mute Swan Action Plan. He says the mute swans are not native to Ohio or even North America, and endanger native Ohio waterfowl.
"That bird is a lot bigger, and (has) a lot longer neck," Peters tells AkronNewsNow.com. "So, what resources are going to be left for a duck with a much shorter...a duck or a goose or any kind of waterfowl compared to a much larger swan."
Grob, who lives on the West Reservoir on the Portage Lakes, says she and her neighbors don't care that the mute swans eat vegetation.
"One of the complaints is they eat too much vegetation," says Grob. "How ludicrous is that? We, and many other people on the lake, pay to have vegetation taken out."
Those thoughts were echoed by Nitzche, who lives on Turkeyfoot Lake.
Peters from the Ohio Division of Wildlife says the mute swans are European imports that endanger Ohio's own waterfowl.
"If uncontrolled," Peters says, "these are very long lived birds that directly compete with our native and endangered trumpeter swans."
Grob says she thinks the remaining mute swans are "hiding". She's seen three of the mute swans that have so far survived the thinning effort, and she says others have seen two more.
She doesn't expect more mute swans along the Portage Lakes...she says she just wants to keep the ones that are left.
As for Fred and Ethel - they've been gone for years. Nitzche says the state took their babies and then the parents several years ago.
"I miss my friends and I do consider them friends," said Nitzche. "I'm very, very sad that they are gone. I shed a lot of tears."
Bob Nitzche, who built a specially-designed feeder for the swans, no longer stops at bakery outlets to buy dozens of loaves of bread for their "friends." There are new swans, but Helen is hesitant again, although it's for an entirely different reason.
"I'm reluctant to bond with them because I'm afraid they're (the state) going to take them away again and I don't want to be hurt like that again."