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"''Four of the seven swans a swimming"'' ... most incredible creatures to get next to. ...In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Trumpeter Swan was hunted heavily, both as game and a source of feathers. This species is also unusually sensitive to lead poisoning while young. These birds once bred in North America from northwestern Indiana west to Oregon in the U.S., and in Canada from James Bay to the Yukon, and they migrated as far south as Texas and southern California. The trumpeter was rare or extinct in most of the United States by the early twentieth century. Many thousands survived in the core range in Canada and Alaska, however, where populations have since rebounded.
Early efforts to reintroduce this bird into other parts of its original range, and to introduce it elsewhere, have had only modest success, as suitable habitats have dwindled and the released birds do not undertake migrations. More recently, the population in all three major population regions have shown sustained growth over the past thirty-year period. Data from the US Fish and Wildlife Service show 400% growth in that period, with signs of increasing growth rates over time.
One impediment to the growth of the Trumpeter Swan population around the Great Lakes is the presence of a growing non-migratory Mute Swan population who compete for habitat.The Toronto Zoo started a conservation project in 1982, using eggs collected in the wild. Live birds have also been taken from the wild. Since then, more than 180 have been released in Ontario. Despite lead poisoning in the wild from shotgun pellets, the prospects for restoration are considered good.
The Trumpeter Swan is listed as threatened in the state of Minnesota.
January 27th, 2013
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