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Old 01-08-2013, 05:31 PM   #1
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Default The Iowa Trumpeter Swan & its Restoration





Some things are just amazing folks and this is one of them. The story of the Restoration & Recovery of Iowa's Trumpeter Swans.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:35 PM   #2
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TRUMPETER SWAN RESTORATION


Prior to the settlement of Iowa, trumpeter swans nested throughout the state. However, wetland drainage and unregulated hunting of trumpeters soon brought their demise. Prior to 1998, the last pair wild nesting trumpeter swans in Iowa occurred in 1883 on the Twin Lakes Wildlife Area southwest of Belmond, Iowa in Hancock County. Some 115 years later, the first modern day hatch of three wild trumpeter swan cygnets occurred in 1998 in Dubuque County. This pair hatched 5 in 1999, 5 again in 2000, 4 in 2001, 5 in 2002 and 4 in 2003.
In 2000, a second pair nested on a Winnebago County Conservation Board wetland (Russ Tract at Thorpe Park) 8 miles west of Forest City. This pair had 5 eggs. Unfortunately none hatched. We did; however, augment the nest with a sixth egg and it hatched providing this pair with a young cygnet to help bond the pair to the wetland nest site.

Trumpeter swans were first given nationwide protection in 1918 when the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed the International Migratory Bird Treaty. A nationwide swan count in the early 1930s indicated that only 69 existed in the continental United States with all those occurring in Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Montana. The Red Rock Lakes became the nation’s first National Wildlife Refuge because of the presence of these trumpeter swans.

In 1993, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources developed a plan to restore trumpeter swans to the state. Our original goal was to establish 15 wild nesting pairs to the state by the summer of 2003. That goal was reached in 2004. Our updated goal was to have 25 wild nesting pairs in Iowa by 2006, and that goal was reached in 2005. Our 2nd goal is to use the swans to “trumpet” the many positive values of wetlands not only for wildlife habitat for many rare and endangered plant and animal species, but for water quality improvement (nature’s natural water filter), flood reduction, and groundwater recharge as well.
Iowa trumpeter swans are being obtained from 26 different states, including zoos, private propagators, other state swan projects, and any other sources that might have available swans, a total of 120 sources to date. We have establishing flightless breeder pairs at appropriate sites, the young of which the DNR releases for free flight at other places across the state. We find it necessary to move young produced at these flightless pair sites have to be moved otherwise they interfere with the following year’s reproductive activity because the adult pair continually harass the young to harass from their nesting territory.

Because trumpeter swans are nearing sustainable numbers the DNR is currently phasing out of Trumpeter swan restoration. A detailed phase out plan is near completion. Thirty three partnership breeding pair sites are currently active. Through the summer of 2008 nearly all trumpeter swans released in Iowa are marked with plastic green or red neck collars and leg bands, along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service metal leg bands. The plastic neck and leg bands are marked with alpha letters C, F, H, J, K, P, T, M, and two numbers, 00 through 99. Many of the early FWS leg bands were made of soft aluminum metal and several of these dropped off. In 2004, we began using lock-on stainless steel FWS leg bands and we are not aware of any band losses since.

We are trying to obtain as much outside funding as possible and we are the fortunate recipients of $165,000 in memory of David A. and Robert Luglan Sampson, formerly of Webster City. Numerous individuals, organizations, and corporations have contributed significant smaller dollar amounts. The Iowa Chapter of the Wild Sheep Association of North America has contributed over $4000 to Trumpeter Swan Restoration in recent years. Considerable soft match/in-kind contributions have been made and are conservatively estimated at over 1.5 million dollars. The Trumpeter Swan Program was also awarded a State Wildlife Grant (SWG) in 2004.

Twenty trumpeter swans were released in Iowa in 2012 (Table 1). Seventy-seven swans were released throughout Iowa in 2004. In 2005, 115 swans were released. In 2006, 70 trumpeters were released and in 2007, 71 trumpeter swans were released. In 2008, 53 trumpeters were released in Iowa and 18 in Arkansas. In 2009, 61 trumpeters have been released in Iowa and 15 in Arkansas. In 2010, 51 trumpeters have been released in Iowa and 16 in Arkansas.
Table 3. shows a grand total of 1112 trumpeters released to date. Iowa has the largest trumpeter swan observation database with over 3600 observation of neck collared swans thru 2012. After 10 years of migration observations, the largest concentrations of migrating Iowa swans are wintering in northeast and east-central Kansas and northwest and west-central Missouri. One Iowa trumpeter swan wintered as far south as Oklahoma during the winter of 1998/1999. Also, one swan wintered near Heber Springs, Arkansas in 1999/2000. During the winter of 2002-2003, 2 swans released at Hottes Lake near Spirit Lake, Iowa, migrated to Lubbock, Texas. These are possibly the first known, or at least the first of very few interior swans to migrate to Texas since the 1880’s. There were 6 confirmed shootings of Iowa swans out-of-state, (1 in Wisconsin, 5 in Texas). A $17,000 fined was charged to four men in connection with the family group of 5 Iowa swans shot in Texas.
In 2001, the swans that nested at Union Slough NWR and Mallard Marsh wintered in southwest Arkansas. In the winter of 2003/2004, a record 9 (at that time) 35 free flying trumpeter swans wintered near Webster City, Iowa. An estimated 75 to 100 trumpeter swans wintered in the state in 2003/2004. “Traditional” swan wintering sites are developing in Iowa. During the winter of 2004-2005, 15 trumpeters staged and spent a portion of their winter at private partner Bob & Mary Boock’s property near Wheatland in east central Iowa. Twenty-four swans staged and spent most of the winter on a rock quarry pit in Atlantic in southwest Iowa. On Bill Beemer’s Pond, a private partner site near Webster City, 61 trumpeter swans spent the winter and another dozen staged on that area before moving further south. During 2005-2006, the number of wintering/staging swans at Wheatland and Atlantic remained the same. At Bill Beemer’s the wintering swans increased to 74 and near Mason City, Iowa on the Winnebago River, 13 free flying swans appeared. Nearly 100 swans wintered on Bill Beemer’s pond near Webster City in 2008 and 2009.

Approximately 50 swans wintered in Atlantic, about 35 swans wintered near Nora Springs, while about 20 wintered at our Great Ape partnership site in southeast Des Moines. During the record snowy and cold winter of 2009 and 2010 about 150 trumpeter swans wintered at Beemer’s pond. 162 wintered at Beemers pond in winter 2010/11 with a total of 193 swans wintering in the state. Over 150 trumpeters wintered in Iowa each of the past 4 years. Table 4. If swans can find open water during the winter, many of them will remain throughout the state. These “winter” sites have provided many people the opportunity to view this “charismatic-mega fauna.”

Migration movements “out of that norm” included 3 swans released at Union Slough NWR that migrated to and wintered in southeast Colorado near Ft Lyon. Two of these were observed at Monticello, Minnesota in the spring of 1997. The straight-line round trip mileage for these birds is over 1300 miles. An unusual swan movement during the winter of 2008-09 was reported in Virginia and that swan returned to Iowa and was reported near Waterloo during the summer of 2009. We have been disappointed that several of our marked swans have lost both plastic neck collars and legs bands and a few have lost the soft aluminum metal USFWS leg bands. A 9C lock on band is currently being used and should remain for a lifetime and for the last 4 years we have not neck collared any swans that have been released in Iowa. Neck collar losses create problems analyzing both movements and mortality of Iowa Trumpeter Swans.

A review of the last 11 years of swan sightings indicates most areas of the state are now seeing swans at sometime during the year. This is another indication that the restoration effort is moving forward. During 2006, 29 of our partnership pairs’ nests hatched, producing nearly 90 young. Ten additional nests failed to hatch and about 2 dozen of the nearly 90 cygnets died of various causes. The invasion of West Nile Virus into Iowa had us cautiously concerned, but at this point we have seen little impact on the trumpeter swans. A new concern could be avian influenza. We hope, if that does occur, impacts will be minimal. The DNR is excited about the future of trumpeter swans in the state and it appears that free flying swans in Iowa are nearing sustainability.

Thru 2008, 274 known mortalities to date includes: 56 have died in power line collisions, 54 poached by violators, 14 died due to lead poisoning, 11 due to apparent malnutrition, and 34 to diseases. Several other mortalities have likely occurred from unknown and unreported causes. Mortality rates are somewhat higher than anticipated and could likely slow trumpeter swan restoration efforts, although our known swan nest attempts are still increasing. Iowa currently has the dubious distinction of having some of the higher shooting mortality of any state in the Midwest. We hope that with increased publicity, additional enforcement efforts, and public scrutiny, we will see the illegal shooting be reduced. Shooting trumpeter swans results in a citation of $1500 in liquidated damages, court costs, and perhaps hunting license revocation. All wildlife populations are cyclic so we know that nest attempts will show ups and down over the duration of the trumpeter restoration efforts. Each year there could also be 2 or 3 other nest attempts that we do not know about as we have had at least a few families of swans show up in the state in what we would consider earlier than when normal southward swan migration begins.

A major milestone was reached in 1998, 1999, and again in 2000, when the first and second free-flying trumpeters nested in Iowa since 1883. Seven free flying swans have bonded and mated with seven captive/pinioned swans and have produced eggs. Besides these, we have several pairs of Iowa swans nesting in Southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Several trumpeters nesting just across the Iowa border into Minnesota and the one near Potosi, WI are the southern most nesting swans in the respective states. At least one Iowa bird, a male, was part of a nesting pair on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Also a pair attempted to nest in 2007 and successfully nested on the Canadian shore of the boundary waters 2008.

High mortality of adults from illegal shootings had us greatly concerned that we may be negatively impacting wild nesting swans in future years. However, in 2002, we had 8 nest attempts in Iowa and 2 Iowa pairs nesting on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River. In 2003, we had 13 wild trumpeter swans nest attempts in Iowa and the same 2 Iowa pair nesting on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River producing a record 44 young in the wild. In 2004, we had 4 new wild nesting pairs in Iowa, with a total of 14 wild trumpeter swans nest attempts in Iowa, 9 were successful. Fifty trumpeter swans nesting attempts occurred in 2011. Figure 1 shows the statewide distribution of these nesting attempts. Several additional Iowa released Trumpeter were reported nesting in MN and WI this year. In 2004, a pair of Iowa trumpeter swans nested, unsuccessfully, near Chillicothe, MO., giving hope that swans will nest on some farm ponds and perhaps our restoration efforts will spill over into Missouri. This pair has successfully hatched 3 cygnets near Dawn, MO, a few miles from their unsuccessful nest attempt of the previous year.

In 2006, this pair’s nest flooded out. Their first nest attempt in 2007, also flooded out, but in their renest attempt 1 cygnet hatched. This was the nesting attempt of trumpeter swans in Missouri in over 140 years. In 2008 and 2009 the pair was not present but one cygnet remains in the area of where it hatched in 3 years previous. A new milestone occurred in 2006 when a pair of Iowa trumpeter swans nested for the first time in nearly 160 years near Savanna, IL. Reports of a second pair of nesting trumpeter swans in the Savanna, Illinois has yet to be confirmed. This pair nested again in 2007 but was flooded out in 2008. In 2009 this pair nested again and successfully hatched 4 cygnets.
In 2012, 45 trumpeter swan nest attempts occurred in Iowa (Figure 1). In 2010, 42 trumpeter swan nest attempts occurred and 50 attempts in 2011. Since 1998, 341 known trumpeter swan nests have occurred in Iowa (Table 3). The 2012 dry weather and wetland conditions resulted in higher cygnet mortality and increased cases of lead poisoning. Many wetlands went completely dry in August and cygnets were forced to walk overland in search food and water.

Iowa has and continues to be a major player in the increase and expansion of the interior trumpeter swan restoration efforts. The Iowa DNR believes that it is approaching sustainability of trumpeter swan in the state. Because we have the largest contingency of captive producing trumpeters in the U.S., we received approval to cooperate with the Trumpeter Swan Society, Arkansas Game and Fish Department, the Mississippi Flyway Council, and the Fish and Wildlife Service and release trumpeter swans in Arkansas. The plan was to release up to 40 swans that had flew in Iowa to hopefully get their “compass readings” and released them on the Buffalo National River and Holla Bend NWR in Arkansas and only at Holla NWR in 2010. We captured and release 18 in 2008, 15 in 2009, and 16 in 2010.

The intent is to see if these released swans will migrate north the first year and then in succeeding years return south to winter with additional swans from the northern states. So far Iowa swans released in AR The first one was sighted in molting condition at Willow Slough in Fremont County in July of 2008. The second one apparently died from a utility wire collision northeast of Clarinda, IA in April of 2010. Other reports include two swan in Otter Tail county MN, one in western IL, and one in Des Moines county, IA As far as we know the remainders of the swans are still in the vicinity of where they were released in Arkansas.

The Trumpeter Swan Society has made enhancing more southward migration one of their goals since its inception. Iowa trumpeter swan production will allow this goal to be tested to see if additional southward migration can be enhanced. This 3 year portion of the Iowa to Arkansas project was completed with the 2010 release. We will continue to explore the possibility of capturing family groups of wintering free flying in both Iowa and Minnesota and releasing them in Arkansas as a part of the effort to encourage more swans to migrate southward.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:39 PM   #3
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Iowa’s Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program
By Dave Hoffman
May 2012
* Last Historical Nesting 1883 @ Twin Lakes in Hancock Co.
• 1994 Mississippi Flyway Sanctioned and Approved. Field Work Initiated in 1995.
• Goals—(1) Wild self-sustaining population (15 Wild nesting pairs by 2003). (Revised Goal 25 pair by 2006.)
(2) Promote the Many Values of Wetlands. “Trumpeting the Cause for Wetlands”
• First Modern Day Nesting Pair in 1998 & 99 Private Pond Dubuque Co.
• Second pair 2000 Thorpe Park Wetlands, Winnebago Co.
• 2001, 9 Wild Nesting Attempts. 26 cygnets hatched: ~ 19 to flight stage.
• 2002, 10 Wild Nesting Attempts. 37 cygnets hatched: ~ 27 to flight stage.
• 2003, 13 Wild Nesting Attempts. 53 cygnets hatched: ~ 36 to flight stage.
• 2004, 15 Wild Nesting Attempts. 44 cygnets hatched: ~ 36 to flight stage.
• 2005, 26 Wild Nesting Attempts. 87 cygnets hatched: ~ 67 to flight stage.
• 2006, 29 Wild Nesting Attempts. 80 cygnets hatched: ~52 to flight stage.
• 2007, 29 Wild Nesting Attempts. 88 cygnets hatched: ~60 to flight stage.
• 2008, 25 Wild Nesting Attempts. 70 cygnets hatched: ~55 to flight stage.
• 2009, 40 Wild Nesting Attempts. 100+ cygnets hatched: ~80 to flight stage.
• 2010, 42 Wild Nesting Attempts. 100+ cygnets hatched: ~84 to flight stage with a total population ~300 statewide.
• 2011, 50 Wild Nesting Attempts. 150+ cygnets hatched
• Several of the Iowa released Trumpeters Swans have nested in Southern Minnesota and Wisconsin and first successful nest in Missouri in over 140 years in 2005 and first successful nest in 170+ years in Illinois in 2006.
* To date, nearly 1,041 Trumpeter Swans have been released; 113 were released in 2005. We released 85 in 2006, 73 in 2007, and ~80 in both 2008 and 2009, 67 in 2010, 51 in 2011
• We have 55 Flightless Partnership Pairs that produce the greatest share of our one year old cygnets for release. We are also obtaining cygnets from U.S. Zoos other sources as the opportunities arise.
• Iowa Swans have been reported in 17 states including Colorado, Virginia & 2 provinces of Canada.
• Traditional migration/wintering sites in Iowa are developing including ~100 near Webster City, ~40 @ Atlantic, 12 near Wheatland, IA., and 25 near Nora Springs. Scattered (smaller #s) at other sites.
• Over 190 Trumpeter Swans wintered in Iowa during the winter of 2010-11.
• Over 250 known mortalities have occurred to date—56 from power line collisions,
57 poached by violators, 34 from diseases, 14 from Lead poisoning, 13 from predators and ~100 from unknown causes.
• Shooting Trumpeter Swans in Iowa results in a $1500 fine and court costs and possible hunting license revocation.
• Iowa Trumpeter Swans were initially neck-collared with green, then red collars’ both with white Alpha-numeric codes & a corresponding plastic leg band & currently with FWS stainless lock on bands. No neck collaring of Iowa released swans has occurred since 2008.
• The Iowa Trumpeter Swan database is likely the largest in the nation and currently exceeds 3,500 observations.
• For Additional Trumpeter Swan information see the following web sites: www.iowadnr.gov , the ISU Trumpeter Swan committee http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/swan/ , the Trumpeter Swan Society www.trumpeterswansociety.org .
• A 3 year experimental migration study in cooperation with Arkansas attempting to encourage southward migration of trumpeter swans was initiated during the winter of 2008. Green neck collars are now being used on Arkansas released swans. Of the 18 trumpeter swans released in Arkansas in early 2008, one reported in IL, two in central MN and two reported in Iowa. Sixteen swans were release in Feb. 2010 at Holla Bend NWR. The Buffalo National River was also a release site in 2007-08.
• For more information or questions concerning Trumpeter Swans contact Dave Hoffman, Iowa Trumpeter Swan Coordinator 1203 North Shore Drive, Clear Lake, IA. 50428. Office Phone # 641-357-3517. E-mail Address: [email protected]
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Iowa Trumpeter Swan & its Restoration

We saw 24 Swans today
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:58 AM   #5
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Here you can see the charts, maps etc, hatch rates, pairs etc.

Cool stuff

https://www.iawaterfowlers.com/userpix/bi...book_2012.docx
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:10 AM   #6
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Thanks Bill stuff I can use with my school kids
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:45 PM   #7
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Right On Dean!
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:47 PM   #8
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I asked for some harvest data on our Swans that have been shot in other states. When I get that info I will post it.
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:33 PM   #9
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Saw 2 of them yesterday out on the Big Mo. River and they flew over us twice during the day. Hell we had snow geese drop in on us.
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:43 AM   #10
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We had around 25-30 swans feeding just west of Lake Icaria yesterday.
They are saying over 35 are at the quarry in Atlantic so I am sure these are part of them just out feeding.
Beautiful bird
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:11 AM   #11
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Default Re: The Iowa Trumpeter Swan & its Restoration

With Trumpeters back I have also seen an increase in Tundra swans migration through Iowa.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:02 AM   #12
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If anyone is interested in veiwing a large number of Swans that are not banded in any way, visit Brushy Creek near Fort Dodge at the West boat ramp, and look SW. There are nearly 50 trumpeters on there right now, and we have not seen a single leg or neck band as far as we can see through the binoculars. There is a good 8" of ice on most of the lake, and the swans, mallards, Canada's, and about 15 ross snow geese are keeping a 30 acre hole open in the ice. They are feeding right off of highway 20. I have never witnessed a flock flying bigger than 10, but I watched these groups going out to feed in an upwards of 20 per flock.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipper140 View Post
With Trumpeters back I have also seen an increase in Tundra swans migration through Iowa.
I have seen some trundra's too, but I am almost positive that the Swans on brushy are trumpeters, through there vocalizations. They don't sound anything like the Tundras we shot in ND. They sound more like what Marge Simpson would sound like having sex.
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