Trumpeter Swans are one of North America’s great conservation stories. Through the 1800s, hunters prioritized Trumpeter Swans for their feathers and meat. Hunting combined with habitat destruction led to the near demise of the species.
Bird Surveys of the Continental US in the 1930s were only able to locate 69 swans in Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in southern Montana. Since then, conservation efforts by different states have led to the resurgence of this majestic bird throughout North America.
In Iowa, this involves various breeding programs and habitat restoration efforts. The breeding programs usually involve adults that are unable to fly due to different accidents. One pair sustained wing injuries due to striking power lines. The young are tagged and set free. By 2000, 50 partnership breeding sites existed in Iowa.
Large organizations and the DNR are not the only ones making an impact. In Hamilton County, a private pond is now a favored wintering location for Trumpeter Swans with open water and food provided by the landowner. Over 100 swans can be found there or in the surrounding fields during the winter months.
Conservation efforts have helped to restore Trumpeter Swan populations, and now these beautiful birds can be found by birders and photographers across the continent.