Lakeland, Florida - Lakeland is home to all sorts of birds -- gulls, white ibises, ducks -- but none as beloved as the swan.
"Oh l love them, they're great," says Caye Outlaw, who watches the swans on her daily walk around Lake Morton.
Lakeland has about 60 swans and they are the city's symbol.
"Swans are the icon of Lakeland. They're on the city's logo," says city spokesman Kevin Cook. "We were given our first mating pair from Queen Elizabeth back in the '40's."
So mess with the swans and you're guaranteed to ruffle some feathers.
For the past several weeks, someone has been swiping swan eggs. City officials think about 40 just-about-to-hatch eggs have been nabbed from nests.
"We've got sticks and implements that someone used to move swans around," says Cook. "We have a very good idea that it's people doing this."
Profit appears to be the motive. Cook says swan eggs sell for about $150 and swan babies, or cygnets, go for $300.
Police have stepped up patrols around Lake Morton and Lake Wire. Motion-activated cameras are also keeping an eye on nests. The public can help too. Investigators want to know if any swan eggs or babies show up for sale on the Internet or elsewhere.
And people who enjoy these swans every day hope an arrest will be this thief's swan song. "Absolutely," says Outlaw. "I think it's terrible."
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