Resource ChallengeThe elegant, snowy white Trumpeter Swan is the subject of intense study and concern. Largest of all North American waterfowl, the birds weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, with a wingspan of up to eight feet. Remaining near open water to feed on aquatic plants, trumpeters consume as much as 20 pounds of wet vegetation each day.
Once abundant throughout much of North America, trumpeters were nearly extinct by 1900. Hunting and habitat changes limited the population to small flocks that lived or migrated through remote areas. The last 200 trumpeters in the lower 48 states and Canada survived by wintering in the frigid Yellowstone Region, where warm springs kept small areas of water ice-free.
Examples of Key PartnersWyoming Wetland Society (WWS), State Fish and Wildlife Departments in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, Jackson Hole Land Trust, Jackson Hole Community Foundation, Teton County Parks and Recreation, Montana Wetland Legacy, Green River Valley Land Trust, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Earth Friends, The Brinson Foundation, the Hofley and the Kendall families, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Results and Accomplishments
In 1986, a non-profit organization, the Wyoming Wetland Society (WWS), established a captive flock of Trumpeter swans to use for restoration projects in the western states.
Between 1994 and 2000, the WWS and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department released 71 birds in the Green River drainage of Wyoming, which now account for 30 percent of the total number of swans in Wyoming, and nearly 40 percent of the adult swans outside Yellowstone National Park.
In 2000 the organization began to work with The Confederated Salish Kootenai tribe of the Flathead Reservation in northwest Montana. The organization released 84 swans over a two-year period, producing the first nesting pair of swans in the Flathead in more than 100 years.
The Society, FWS, and the State of Idaho released 27 swans on the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho, where five pairs now use the refuge, compared to just one pair prior to the release.
Thanks to the participation of federal, state, and local governments, conservation organizations, foundations, and landowners, 182 trumpeter swans have been released in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho during the last several years. Thanks to their efforts, it is likely that the trumpeter swan will not be listed under the ESA.