Before European settlement, as many as 150,000 trumpeter swans lived in the Eastern United States. By the end of the 19th century, they were all dead, victims of pioneer settlers who wanted their meat, or hat-makers who wanted their feathers.
According to the 2000-2001 DOW Wildlife Population Status Forecast, 35 Trumpeter Swans were released in 2000 15 of which were released at Killdeer Plains WA and all released swans bear a green neck collar and leg band with white codes either M## or #M#. Since 1996, 118 have been released and 51 are known to be alive. 12 pairs were reported in 2000; 8 of the 12 nested and 7 of the 8 were successful nests hatching 19 cygnets of which 13 are still alive. --Bret Graves The Ohio State University School of Natural Resources
The Crescent-News, Defiance OH, June 26, 2002
"...36 young swans, called cygnets, hatched this year... Another 9 pairs of Ohio swans have bonded but not yet built nests or laid eggs. Last year, 31 cygnets hatched, a previous high...'Charismatic mega-fauna, like the trumpeter swans, are wonderful species to reintroduce,' said John Ritzenthaler, a spokesman fromt he National Audubon Society's Ohio office. 'They are wonderful to see and a great showcase. The public loves showy birds," he added. In the last 6 years, Ohio has released about 130 trumpeter swans, joining other Midwest states and Ontario in reintroducing the birds. Trumpeter swans once lived in much of the northern third of North America. But by the early 1930s, the bird was nearly wiped out, with only 69 left in the lower 48 states. The swans were killed for their meat and their plumage, which was used to make powder puffs, quill pens, and decorations on hats and clothing. Today there are nearly 24,000 trumpeter swans, with the greatest number in Alaska and Canada. Ohio released its first 15 swans in May 1996 at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Ottawa County. Those first birds came from private breeders and zoos, as well as eggs collected in Alaska by the Ohio Division of Wildlife."
"On the afternoon of February 13, I observed two immature Trumpeter Swans feeding on handouts of sliced white bread from a park visitor. One of the birds was banded: a metal band (619-33032) on the left tarsus and a green color band with white lettering (5M4) on the right tarsus. Mary Gustafson of the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory notified me that this individual had been banded as a local (too-young-to-fly) female onAugust 24, 2000, near Rocky Ridge, Ohio, by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Rocky Ridge is located in Ottawa County, near the shoreline of Lake Erie, about half-way between Sandusky and Toledo...John L. Trapp U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Bird Management Arlington, Virginia USA (703) 358-1965
Just wanted to provide some insight to the thread regarding the trumpeter swans which were seen in Charleston, WV. The 2 immature trumpeter swans reported in Charleston, WV were hatched at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area sometime in June 2000. We're not sure of the exact date of hatching because the parents were very wary and secretive during incubation and the first 2 months after hatching. The nest could not be located even though it was only 200-300 yards north of the Magee Marsh helo-pad, and aerial searches were conducted from the helicopter prior to every landing and immediately following take-off. We tried to read the collar number of the male during incubation numerous times, but whenever we came within 100 yards, the bird would slip off into the cattails. This family group was seen only 3 times in the cygnets' first 8 weeks of life, and the only human contact with the cygnets occurred at 8 weeks when 1 of the cygnets was captured, collared, and banded. The parents abandoned the cygnets approximately 11 weeks after hatching, and the cygnets were not seen again until November and again in February despite intensive searches for the birds throughout the fall. These 2 swans were raised in as pristine conditions as is possible in Ohio, and obviously did not learn any "bad" habits from their parents since they were abandoned at such an early age. (Poor parenting skills are not that unusual for 1st-time swan parents.) After consulting with other swan biologists in the surrounding states, I believe this "tameness" is common behavior during late winter & early spring, and is primarily caused by a food crunch. Swans feed primarily on aquatic vegetation, and since themajority of the aquatics are no longer abundant this time of year, they become more tolerant of human disturbance if food is available, and will even seek out humans once they associate people with food. Unfortunately, almost any wildlife species can become accustomed to humans and look to them for food (e.g., chickadees eating out of people's hands, deer & elk eating hay out of barnyards, bears raiding campsites, etc.). Our best defense against this behavior is to discourage folks from feeding wildlife which the Division has been doing for decades. -Dave Sherman Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife Crane Creek Research Station 13229 West S.R. 2 Oak Harbor, OH 43449 (419)898-0960 X24 (PHONE)
Some personal experiences: in November a family group of seven trumpeters dawdled next to the road at Magee Marsh WA; they seemed quite fearless of our approach. A week ago three birds, two adults and a young one, failed to retreat when I walked within 25 feet along Washburn Rd at Killdeer Plains WA. I didn't have bread on either occasion, so can't report how close I might have approached. An informant from southern Ohio was telephoned this winter by a bewildered farmer who wondered how the tame swans got into his pond, and approached _him_ when he walked toward them; they were trumpeters, some sporting their Ohio green tags with white lettering. By the way, the rest of Trapp's message above mentions that the swans were hanging out with 65 Canada geese, thirty pure and ten mallard hybrids, several ducks with a lot of Ruddy Shelduck in them, and 11 white Pekin ducks. Good company. We've heard that the Division of Wildlife improved its method of rearing these introduced birds after the 1996 batch were seen begging food all over the state. Young birds, however, persist in begging from humans. Either the older ones are passing along bad habits or improved techniques are not having their intended effect. Since introduced swans apparently lack normal migratory behaviors, they tend to retreat south only as frozen water compels them (although some may be learning from Canada geese to glean spilled crops in fields), and this winter Ohio-brand swans have been seen in a number of states to our south, as far as northern Virginia to my knowledge. Let's hope this rather embarrassing behavior is not giving Ohio a bad name, but my point here is how we as birders treat reports of trumpeter swans. A lot of fairly new birders read this list who may not have seen wild trumpeter swans, whose range is far from Ohio. There has not been a confirmed record of a such a bird here for many many decades, and the birds you see in Ohio these days--whether they have neck-collars are not--are not much wilder than the ducks you'll find snarfing bread crusts at the city pond. It is of course conceivable that a genuinely wild trumpeter could stray to Ohio, and actually be "countable" in the sense most birders understand the term. Fortunately, we can still begin to separate the real ones with the old white-bread technique. So don't be surprised if nobody on ohio-birds is very excited about your report of trumpeter swans at Magee, or Killdeer, or the city park. Put 'em on your list if you must, but you might as well add birds you see at the zoo. Remember, though, if you do seem some in an unusual place, ODOW would like to know, as they want to keep track of their swans; try to get the numbers--and colors, as other nearby states have similar projects--from their collars if you can; you should, we arelearning, easily be able to get close enough to see these. If you want to know more about really wild trumpeters in the region, there's an article in the latest issue of The Ohio Cardinal, just out.--Bill Whan ColumbusOH on 2/17/2001 Ohiobirds@envirolink listserve.
FOUR TOLEDO RESIDENTS FOUND GUILTY OF KILLING RARE SWANS 4/4/2000 ODNR News Briefs
TOLEDO, OH -- Four Toledo area men have been found guilty and sentenced in connection with last year's shooting of trumpeter swans in Ottawa and Lucas counties. Stephen M. Pastor Jr., 31, of Toledo was sentenced in Ottawa County Municipal Court to 180 days in jail with all but five days suspended, and ordered to pay the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife $1,000 in restitution. He also was ordered to complete a hunter education course after being found guilty of shooting a trumpeter swan last October. Christopher J. Church, 35, of Northward and Mark D. Gagman, 35, of Toledo were each found guilty in Ottawa County Municipal Court of attempting to shoot a trumpeter swan last October. They each received a suspended 180-day jail term and were given a $500 fine. They also were ordered to complete a hunter education course and to provide 50 hours of community service at a northwest Ohio park. Jeffrey P. Schmidt, 37, of Toledo was found guilty in Oregon Municipal Court of shooting a trumpeter swan in Lucas County last October. He was given a 180-day jail term with all but five days suspended, fined $175, and ordered to pay the state a restitution of $1,000. He also was ordered to complete a hunter education course. Each of the four defendants received a two-year suspension of their hunting privileges in Ohio.
MORE SHOOTING OF TRUMPETER SWANS AT MAGEE MARSH, TOLEDO, OHIO:
Steve also wanted me to share the following info with you. This is taken directly from an e-mail that he sent me: The "poachers" have started shooting swans again this year. Last Friday they shot 2 trumpeter swans, Saturday they shot a tundra swan - all 3 at Magee Marsh. This is after they were warned during check-in about not shooting "the big white birds". This made Steve Pollick's article in the Toledo Blade this morning. The 2 guys who shot the trumpeters were Fred Triplett and Jeff Shawver, both from Elyria. Guys like this are just going to give the antis more fuel and ruin hunting for all of us. Luckily another hunter saw them do it and called the area manager on his cell phone. Hats off to him! The guy who shot the tundra swan will likely be prosecuted also (thanks to a "hunter"). They said they thought the birds were geese - give me a break! Identify your target before you shoot. Maybe you could post something on the page - we need the "hunters" help to keep their eyes and ears open and report any tips or bits of evidence that could help the wildlife officers. Still no leads on the swan shot at Killdeer this summer. Poachers need to realize they are not going to get away with this slob behavior - 4 poachers from Toledo were prosecuted last year for shooting swans (loss of hunting privileges, possible jail time, and $1,000 fines)." Let's help each other out to make sure that we uphold a good image to the public. Turn in the "slobs" as they will only hurt our chances to enjoy this great sport in the future. Good luck hunting this week. Ken for Steve Parrott on waterfowler.com -Wednesday, November 08, 2000 at 07:33:32 (EST)
IN DES MOINES IOWA, 3 COLLEGE KIDS KILLED A TRUMPETER WITH A BASEBALL BAT 12/16/1999:
By KATE KOMPAS Register Staff Writer 02/03/2001 Three college students accused of beating to death a rare swan have pleaded not guilty and face a court hearing next month. The three Buena Vista University students - Evan Grieme, Lance Ploeger and Josh Pyle, all of Schaller - beat the trumpeter swan with a baseball bat in the early morning hours of Dec. 16, authorities said. The dead swan was part of a three-year, $20,000 effort to reintroduce the bird to Big Storm Lake. "We were all very outraged that something like this would happen," said Mark Kirkholm, a member of Buena Vista Trumpeter Swan Restoration Project. "People spent so much time and so much effort to make this project a success, it was very disheartening to know that someone would do something of this nature." The committee raised about $20,000 to bring eight trumpeter swans to Buena Vista and Cherokee counties. That number had grown to 12 within the past few years. Chris Lloyd, a state Department of Natural Resources conservation office r, said the three students were turned in by someone who overheard them bragging about killing the swan. Lloyd said a court hearing is scheduled for March 27. If convicted, the students could be sentenced to 30 days in jail each, fined $1,500 each, and ordered to pay for a replacement swan. The birds aren't on the endangered species list, but "trumpeter swans are actually quite a bit more rare than a bald eagle," Lloyd said. The three students live on the Buena Vista University campus, said school spokesman Richard Ridgway. He said he believed they are still enrolled. None of the three could be reached for comment. Ridgway said a university judicial committee might take action if the students are found guilty, but he wouldn't be specific about what type of punishment the students would face. "This is an unusual case," Ridgway said. There's been a concerted effort within the past decade to bring trumpeter swans to Iowa. Officials have prosecuted people responsible for killing them. The birds, which can grow to 25 pounds with 7-foot wingspans, are known to be occasionally aggressive. Trumpeter swans are social animals, so the remaining one wandered off after its partner was killed, Kirkholm said. He said committee members are planning to release more of the swans in April. "This has just strengthened our resolve" to make the project succeed, Kirkholm said. -- DesMoinesIA
WISCONSIN: Waterfowl hunters shoot two trumpeter swans in Vilas County Third dead swan found Tuesday near Necedah:
MADISON – Waterfowl hunters shot and killed two trumpeter swans over the weekend in Vilas County, and a third dead swan was discovered Tuesday in Juneau County, prompting state wildlife officials to issue another statewide warning to hunters to be on the lookout for these endangered birds in Wisconsin. State conservation wardens are investigating the Vilas County shooting, which took place Saturday, Oct. 16, on Rice Creek near Island Lake between Boulder Junction and Manitowish Waters. Both swans were old enough to breed -- between 2 and 3 years old -- and had completely white feathers, according to Sumner Matteson, an avian ecologist with the Department of Natural Resources who coordinates the swan recovery program. One of the swans was a male that was hatched from eggs that Matteson and other biologists collected in Alaska in 1997 and which had been raised in a decoy-rearing program near Mercer. That swan wore a yellow identification collar around its neck. The other was an un-collared female of unknown origin. The shooters fled the area after they were yelled at by other hunters in the area, who then reported the shooting to officials. "This is really an unconscionable shooting," Matteson said. "These were fully grown, completely white swans. They look nothing like Canada geese, which are significantly smaller than trumpeter swans and the markings are very different." "These two had apparently established a pair bond and there was a very high likelihood that they would have nested when they returned to Wisconsin next spring," Matteson said. A third dead swan was found Tuesday, Oct. 19 at the Meadow Valley State Wildlife Area, adjacent to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. The 6-year-old male swan had been dead for some time, but Matteson said it apparently died from a gunshot wound. That swan, which also wore a identification collar, had successfully nested the past couple of years, producing a number of young swans. Mistaking a trumpeter swan for a goose or other legally hunted waterfowl can be costly. The unintentional shooting of a swan can result in fines and restitution costs exceeding $2,000; the intentional shooting of a swan can exceed $5,000 in fines and restitution costs. Additionally, hunters found guilty of shooting a swan can loose their hunting privileges for up to three years. All hunters are responsible for being sure of their target, and that includes being able to accurately identify the game they are hunting. Trumpeter swans -- named for their resonant, trumpet-like call -- are the largest waterfowl species in North America. Adults, which are snow-white in color with black bills, can stand up to four feet tall and weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. They have a wing span up to 7 feet. Immature swans, called cygnets, are grayish and may have pink bills. Most swans released through the reintroduction program have yellow or green collars around their necks that display identification numbers. People who think they may have seen a trumpeter can report the sighting to the "swan hotline" at 1-800-815-8151. Anyone who sees a hunter shoot at a swan should notify the nearest DNR conservation warden or call the toll-free DNR poaching hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR (1-800-847-9367).
BINDER PARK ZOO, Battle Creek MI, goes to a lot of trouble to return a Trumpeter to the wild:
Sound the trumpet…a new trumpeter swan has arrived! The smallest of our new zoo babies is an endangered Michigan native, the trumpeter swan, weighing in at only a few ounces. It is an important birth for the trumpeter swan restoration program. "We are very happy to be working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Kellogg Biological Station to support the swan restoration," comments Jenny Barnett, General Curator of Binder Park Zoo. The trumpeter swans are the largest waterfowl in North America with nests measuring over five feet across. Once fully developed, the baby swan will be released into the wild, right here in Michigan.--binderparkzoo.org 7/2001 website
and if you think the fine for shooting a trumpeter swan is low, what about 2 whooping cranes?: click here--> Whooping Cranes Shot!
[There] has been a veritable explosion in swan numbers in Alaska -- from 2,847 in 1968 to 17,155 last year -- include an increase in the number of beavers in Alaska, which has produced more trumpeter swan habitat. Trumpeter swans consider equisetum, more commonly called horsetail, as a delicacy and it grows mostly in marshy areas created by beaver ponds. t also helps that hunting trumpeter swans has been illegal since the early 1900s as a result of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The population had been decimated by Lower 48 market hunters and swans were listed as an endangered species. The increase in trumpeter swans in some Lower 48 states where tundra swan hunting is legal has also persuaded waterfowl hunters in those states to push for a generic swan hunting season that would allow them to shoot either tundra or trumpeter swans. --Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Tim Mowry, 5/4/2001
We reported on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's (FWS) proposal to establish a permanent sport-hunting season on the extremely rare Trumpeter Swans in the Pacific Flyway. This proposal was made in order to accommodate a contingent of Tundra Swan hunters, who often mistakenly shoot the protected Trumpeter Swans because their profile in flight is almost indistinguishable from that of the Tundra Swan. In order to protect the Trumpeter Swan, the FWS would have had to close Tundra Swan season. Instead, on August 21st, the USFish & Wildlife Service announced that it WILL now permit killing of Trumpeter Swans in conjunction with Tundra Swans in Utah, Montana, and Nevada. This decision comes as a perilous blow to the survival of the Trumpeter Swans, whose future existence relies on the birds' ability to expand their migratory range. Because nearly every Trumpeter Swan who tries to migrate through the Pacific flyway is shot by Tundra Swan hunters, the likelihood for species survival looks very slim.