Five-Year Trumpeter Swan Survey: 2010 North American Trumpeter Swan Survey is Underway

Trumpeter Swan Beak Detail, by John VanOrman

Trumpeter Swan by John VanOrman

Every 5 years, abundance and productivity of Trumpeter Swans are assessed by means of a rangewide survey. This survey is the official population status assessment used to guide the management of Trumpeters in Canada and the United States. The effort is coordinated and compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but its success is dependent on the cooperation of numerous partners in both nations. This summer, the current survey appeared to be in jeopardy because of funding issues within the Canadian Wildlife Service.  At the 11th hour, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stepped in with biologist/pilots and aircraft to salvage much of the survey effort in Canada.  The initial survey in 1968 tallied 3,722 Trumpeters. The next survey was done in 1974-75 and it has been completed every 5th year since. Increased numbers of Trumpeters have been recorded each time – in 2005, almost 35,000 were counted. In addition to total swans, family groups are noted and the proportion of adult birds to young is assessed. From 1968 to 1975, the number of wild Trumpeters in North America increased at an average rate of 6 percent. Assessments are also reported by population and, in some cases, smaller sub-groups. During the 2000 to 2005 period, only the U.S. parts of the Rocky Mountain Population declined. Because of that, TTSS continues to focus efforts on swan conservation in the Greater Yellowstone Area and adjacent areas. Given the preliminary reports we have been receiving, we won’t be surprised if the 2010 survey records another record number.  An official report won’t be available until sometime in 2011.   –  John Cornely

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