For an Alaskan Trumpeter Swan, a Happy Ending

Four kayakers from the Seward-based company Kayak Adventures Worldwide  recently teamed up with biologists

Alarmed Trumpeter Mate Takes to the Sky  photo: Wendy Doughty, Kayak Adventures Worldwide

Alarmed Trumpeter Mate Takes to the Sky photo: Wendy Doughty, Kayak Adventures Worldwide

from the Alaska Sealife Center (ASLC)  to rescue a Trumpeter Swan illegally shot and injured by a vandal’s bow and arrow. Answering a call to help from Heidi Cline, Avian Curator for the ASLC, co-owner Wendy Doughty got a show of support from four of her guides. In a quick response they closed the office and headed north to Tern Lake to volunteer their skills.

Years of paddling experience paid off as despite its injuries the swan proved to be wary, swift and strong. Its mate, alarmed, took to the sky. On a first attempt, the kayakers steered the swimming bird for close to a mile, into a narrow cove where biologists waited by a 70 ft. net strung for the capture. On seeing the net, the swan abruptly turned and swam rapidly the other direction, crossing one of the small islands in Tern Lake. The kayakers quickly reversed and came up with plan B in which they successfully moved the bird toward a shoreline. Here ASLC’s Tasha DiMarzio, senior aviculturist, jumped into the water to make the capture. The bird calmed under her experienced grasp.

Tern Lake is located at the busy intersection of the highway from Anchorage where it branches to Seward or Homer. Here, a small crowd gathered and several media people were on hand for the capture which lasted about an hour. Reporters from the Seward City News wrote: ‘“Its wing was pinned to its body,”’ said ACLC Stranding Coordinator Tim Lebling. Lebling described the target arrow as one shot at close range, piercing almost 10cm into the swan’s chest. Thankfully, it missed the swan’s vital organs.  

Now two weeks later, Tim Lebling reports to The Trumpeter Swan Society that the swan is back with its mate and doing

Trumpeter Rescue   photo: Wendy Doughty Kayak Adventures Worldwide

Trumpeter Rescue photo: Wendy Doughty Kayak Adventures Worldwide

well and that Heidi Cline has returned to see the bird actively foraging and mobile. Lebling says “our hopes are that it will lose the swelling and pain from the arrow and regain strength by October when they usually migrate from that particular lake. The ASLC will continue to monitor both swans until then.” If twenty-three pounds of fast-moving Trumpeter captured the admiration of the rescuers, their actions certainly inspire ours. The care and concern expressed by the community for this individual Trumpeter certainly bodes well for our efforts to restore and secure Trumpeter Swan populations continent-wide. Visit us at http://www.trumpeterswansociety.org for more details on our work with this magnificent species.

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One Response to “For an Alaskan Trumpeter Swan, a Happy Ending”

  1. Rod Hug Says:

    Thanks to everyone who rescued this wonderful swan.

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