Wyoming trumpeter swan count historically high this year

According to recent counts by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the number of trumpeter swans in Wyoming has risen 27 percent compared to previous years. The fall aerial survey provides a count of the resident, non-migratory swan population in western Wyoming, including the number of mature young produced in 2015. In 2013, Game and Fish counted 205 swans, in 2014 they counted 223, and this year they counted 277 (212 adult/subadults and 65 cygnets). According to Biologist Susan Palta, this is a historic high count. The number of adult/subadults increased 27 percent compared to the previous year indicating excellent overwinter survival. “This is one of the great conservation success stories,” said Patla. “When Game and fish started the project in 1994, they began to release captive swans in the green river basin.” Since swans are very traditional, the native, non-captive swans weren’t spreading out throughout the region. When Game and Fish tried moving wild birds, they would return to their home or not make it. “Wyoming Wetlands Society was raising the captive swans and we put out 70 captive birds in 10 years,” Patla added. “From that, they produced young and those young are doing very well.” Due to the project, Game and Fish have more than doubled the amount of swans in western Wyoming. ​​*Biologist Susan Patla banding a Trumpeter swan. h/t Mark Gocke, WGFD* Swan numbers continue to increase in the Green River expansion area. The number of successful nests in the Green River increased from 13 to 20 this year, which produced 55 cygnets. However, in the Snake River, the number dropped from six to three successful nests with 10 cygnets fledged. “We have been working with non-profits and land owners in the Green River area and have created several successful nesting habitats for the swans,” said Palta. The trumpeter swan is the largest native North American waterfowl. According to the Birds of North America website, the trumpeter swan used to be widespread, but its numbers diminished when early European settlers killed them off for their skin and feathers. “It has been wonderful to be involved with this effort,” said Palta. *h/t Mark Gocke, WGFD* #shortgo