News Archive 2011


Trumpeter Watch, a Citizen Science Project of The Trumpeter Swan Society kicks off Third Winter Season
November, 2011

Wisconsin Trumpeter Swan Nest Survey Counts Reach Record High
November, 2011


October 10-14, 2011   ~   Polson, Montana

The biennial conferences of TTSS provide the only public forum in North America that brings together private citizens and conservation groups, policy makers, swan managers, and researchers to examine the status and needs of Trumpeter Swans in the U.S. and Canada and to work together to make all populations secure.
We invite you to attend!

Join us in Polson, Montana to confer on Trumpeter Swan conservation and help chart the Society's course for the future. The conference will put special emphasis on the status of swans in the Western United States, including updates about the status and management of the Pacific and Interior Populations of Trumpeter Swans. There will be progress reports on topics such as lead poisoning in British Columbia and Washington State and expansion of Trumpeter Swan populations elsewhere. Learn about Trumpeter Swan restoration efforts in western Montana, as well as challenging issues facing swans in the Pacific Northwest.


(posted 09/27/11)

The conference will include a field trip to wetlands in which Trumpeter Swans are being restored as a viable breeding species in Montana's Flathead Indian Reservation and the nearby Blackfoot River Drainage.

CSKT Tribal Wildlife Management Program
Dale Becker and Janene Lichtenberg, CSKT Tribal Wildlife Management Program


September 20, 2011 ~ View the PDF

JACKSON � An important wetlands study in Wyoming recently received a financial boost from an Environmental Protection Agency grant. The grant awarded to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will provide $98,000 for a wetlands study to be completed in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The two-year study, and inventory, will provide foundational data on wetland conditions in the Upper Green River Basin for future wetland protection and restoration efforts. This new information will expand upon a basic statewide wetland assessment completed by both organizations in 2010.

"The Nature Conservancy is proud to partner with the Game and Fish on this project because we both know healthy wetlands mean a better environment and a stronger economy in Wyoming," says Holly Copeland, ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming. "Wetlands provide natural flood control, store carbon and help fight pollution. They also provide great economic value through clean water recreation and fisheries." Read full story


TTSS was recently featured in the July 2011 Alaska Airlines, Horizon Edition magazine, in an article on Trumpeter Swans and Red Rock Lakes NWR, noting the Society's work to reduce the threats of lead to Trumpeters Swans.

"WHEN JOHN JAMES AUDUBON was studying and painting trump~terswans in the early 1800s, he wrote that bird-watchers who see these magnificent creatures "will feel, as I have felt, more happy and void of care than I can describe..."
View the online edition  |   View the PDF


By Ruth Shea, May 2011 ~ TTSS Blog

A Report from the Field, from Ruth Shea

Yellowstone National Parkplayed a crucial role in the 1930s in preventing the extinction of Trumpeter Swans in the lower 48 states. At their peak in the 1970s, over 50 Trumpeters summered in the Park and there were about 20 nesting territories. Now, after a decline spanning over 30 years, only a handful of swans still summer in the Park and only one nesting pair remains. In an effort to examine all possible options for saving Yellowstone�s swans, the National Park Service (NPS) convened about 30 swan, waterfowl, and wetland experts for a 2-day workshop, April 26-27, 2011 in Bozeman, Montana.

Having studied Yellowstone�s swans for my Master�s thesis in the 1970s, and now coordinating TTSS�s Greater Yellowstone Initiative, this issue has great personal interest to me. I attended the workshop on behalf of TTSS and made the opening presentation summarizing the history of the Park�s swans. The reasons for the decline are complex and it was wonderful that the NPS brought so many scientists to contemplate the problems and possible solutions.

While there may be other unknown factors involved in the decline, my research indicates that human disturbance, dating back to the 1930s, has played a major role in damaging nesting success and eliminating nesting swans from preferred habitats in the park. Coupled with the disruption of the swan families� traditional patterns of habitat use and possible genetic problems, maintaining nesting Trumpeters inYellowstoneis a very difficult challenge.

TTSS commends the NPS for its efforts to improve this very difficult situation and we look forward to providing all possible assistance to the NPS. Please see our next issue of Trumpetings, the Society�s publication for members, for further detail.


By Glen Schmitt, March 26, 2011 ~

Minnesota's Trumpeters Exceed 5000 in Five-Year Survey This article features TTSS Board Member Larry Gillette and chronicles a remarkable chapter in the success of Trumpeter Swan restoration.

The return of trumpeter swans to Minnesota is considered one of the state�s great wildlife success stories.

Consider that just more than 40 years ago, trumpeter�s no longer existed anywhere in the state. Up until the 1970s you have to go back to the mid-1800s to find record of trumpeter swans in Minnesota.

With the aid of some dedicated individuals and an accelerated swan restoration program, the trumpeter swan is back and more prevalent now than anyone could have expected.

A statewide aerial survey conducted in January revealed that the current population of trumpeter swans in the state has more than doubled in the last five years ... Read full story


By Jeff Chew, February 02, 2011

DUNGENESS -- State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents are investigating the fatal shooting of a trumpeter swan, whose carcass was found Monday in a pond off Woodcock Road near Buttercup Lane.

Shelly Ament, a biologist with Fish and Wildlife, said that X-rays showed 41 shot �gun pellets in the 19-pound bird's carcass.

"Since I've been here, I think this is the first one we can confirm was shot," said Ament, who has worked in the Dungeness Valley for 19 years.

Trumpeter swans are protected, and killing trumpeter swans, even accidentally while hunting sport species, violates several state and federal laws.

The Mill Creek-based Trumpeter Swan Society is offering a reward of $500 to the person whose information leads to the arrest and conviction of the shooter or shooters, said Martha Jordan, a wildlife biologist with the society.

When and where the swan was shot is unknown, Ament said.

The bird was spotted on the pond Friday, she said, and found dead Monday at the far end of the pond with another trumpeter swan nearby ... Read full story


By Bruce Dorminey, January 31, 2011

Having survived an extinction scare a century ago, the world�s largest waterfowl is stalked by the remnants of past shotgun blasts.

At first glance, Crescent Lake, a shallow body abutting a cornfield in upper Snohomish County, Wash., would appear to be perfectly pristine. Mallard and pintail ducks skirt the edges of its banks on waters that � in this contaminated age at least � would seem to be as untouched as anyone could hope.

But as wildlife biologist Martha Jordan explained on a recent rain-sodden Northwest afternoon, the lake has become lethal to the celebrated trumpeter swan, the world�s largest waterfowl.

The trumpeter swan, or cygnus buccinators, winters along hundreds of miles of the Pacific Northwest. For more than a decade, however, large numbers of these birds have died from lead shot � not shot fired at them, but historical deposits of shot fired from shotguns of days gone by.

The lead can be picked up as grit or consumed by accident along with the swan�s food source. Because birds don�t have teeth, they use the grit to help break up or grind their food in their gizzards ... Read full story

by Ruth Shea

Greg Smith

A recent decision by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to expand a late winter Snow Goose hunt in southeast Idaho would jeopardize Trumpeter Swan use of important prebreeding habitat near Fort Hall at the north end of American Falls Reservoir. TTSS is asking IDFG and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to reverse this decision and protect Trumpeter Swans in this area.

TTSS is not "antihunting." Several TTSS staff and Board members have been long-term managers of waterfowl hunts during their careers and TTSS is not opposed to well-managed waterfowl hunting. However, the design of this hunt is flawed. It would jeopardize important Trumpeter Swan habitat-use patterns that took many years, great effort, and great expense to create.

Beginning in 1988, the USFWS, the Pacific Flyway Council, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Idaho, several other western states, and TTSS undertook a massive effort to disperse wintering Trumpeter Swans from high elevation areas of Harriman State Park, Idaho, and Red Rock Lakes NWR (RRLNWR), Montana. The goal was to encourage migrations southward to milder wintering sites where swans would gain access to new winter and early spring food sources.

This very difficult effort included termination of winter feeding at RRLNWR, massive hazing of swans from high-risk sites, and relocation of over 250 Trumpeters Swans to Fort Hall from RRLNWR (101), Harriman State Park (135), and from captive rearing (25+). Agencies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the new migration to Fort Hall to help increase population security. Winter translocations involved nighttime capture on icy waters, often at near-zero temperatures, with great risk to those who braved those dangerous conditions.

The American Falls wintering area is the biggest success of the range expansion effort, with over 500 Trumpeters present in recent winters. Swans have gradually learned to field feed in areas north and west of the reservoir in late winter. Late-winter nutrition is key to nesting success of the region's Trumpeters and regional managers are struggling to protect and enhance these crucial prebreeding habitats. The proposed hunt expansion would open the most important swan prebreeding habitats to Snow Goose hunting from February 19 to March 10, when these areas normally receive heavy swan use.

TTSS will ask IDFG to reverse the hunt expansion and maintain at least the same secure areas provided by the 2010 hunt boundary. We also ask that IDFG closely monitor the distribution of swans and geese in the American Falls area during the hunt and take immediate measures to prevent hunter activity from displacing swans from their normal feeding areas if problems arise.

The USFWS and IDFG should also examine potential impacts of continuing a Snow Goose hunt in this area. Our primary concern is that any late hunt will concentrate Snow Geese in the closed areas with swans, thus increasing the potential for crop damage in the closed area, as well as disease transmission from geese to swans. Watch our website for updates on this issue.