Posts Tagged ‘US Fish and Wildlife Service’

Remembering Harold H. Burgess, Trumpeter Swan Society Past President and Board of Directors

April 16, 2012

Last month, members, Board members and staff of The Trumpeter Swan Society were saddened to hear of the death of Harold Burgess.  Harold served on the Society’s Board of Directors and as President of TTSS for two terms. He was recently honored by the Society as one of the first recipients of the TTSS George Melendez Wright Trumpeter Swan Conservation Award.  A copy of his obituary follows:

Harold H, Burgess

Harold H. Burgess died Tuesday, March 13, 2012, in Weslaco, TX, at age 94.  He was born in 1917 at Cedardale, Michigan.  Survivors include his children Thomas, Mary and Barbara, son-in-law Terry, grandchildren David, Hannah, and Betsy, granddaughter-in-law Crystal.  His wife Ruth; his parents Guy and Mary; his brothers Henry, Fred, Robert, Eugene, and James precede him in death.

After graduation from Deckerville High School, Harold served with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Upper Michigan.  He graduated from Michigan State College with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry.  In 1942, he became a superintendent at Firestone Rubber Plantation in Liberia, West Africa.  While traveling through the Liberian hinterland, he met his future wife, Ruth Longstaff, at Ganta Mission.

Returning to Michigan State College, he finished his Masters in Zoology.  After enlisting in the 8th Army Engineers, he married Ruth in December 1947 and served as a forestry adviser in Korea and later as an agriculture adviser in Japan.

In 1950 he began 30 years with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, managing four National Wildlife Refuges of the Missouri-Mississippi watershed in succession, completing his career at the Area Office in North Kansas City, Missouri.  For a second 30 years after retirement, he volunteered at various nature sanctuaries, wildlife refuges, and state parks.  Those in Texas included Laguna Atascosa NWR, Lower Rio Grande NWR, Santa Ana NWR, Valley Nature Center, and Estero Llano Grande State Park.  He also took part in the Texas Breeding Bird Atlas, Elder Hostel programs, as well as both the Frontera and the Rio Grande Valley Audubon Societies.  Harold received The Valley Nature Center’s “Outstanding Naturalist Award” for 2002.

Though interested in all birds, Harold considered himself an avian ecologist rather than an ornithologist.  After initial work with pheasants in Michigan, his career with the US Fish and Wildlife Service allowed projects improving the habitat of specific waterfowl at various National Wildlife Refuges.  At Upper Mississippi  (WI) he worked with Wood Ducks; at Union Slough ( IA), Blue-Winged Teal; at Squaw Creek (MO), Snow Geese and Canada Geese; and at Lacreek (SD), Trumpeter Swans.  Even in retirement on the Lower Rio Grande, he added another specialty:  Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.

However, Harold had found his passion to be with Trumpeter Swans.  Trumpeters had nearly gone extinct in the 48 states by the 1930s.  The ensuing work of the Fish and Wildlife Service in preserving this nesting population, was extended by The Trumpeter Swan Society, whose mission is to restore the species to its previously existing breeding and migration ranges.  After retirement in 1980 he volunteered with The Trumpeter Swan Society, serving on the board of directors and two terms as president.

In lieu of flowers, friends are invited to consider making a donation to or becoming members of The Trumpeter Swan Society.   The family will appreciate cards and reminiscences from Harold’s many friends.  A memorial is planned later this spring and is open to the public.  It will take place June 16, 2012, at 2 PM at The Valley Nature Center, 301 S. Border Ave, Weslaco, (956) 969-2475.

Federal Agencies Partner with Industry to Protect Trumpeter Swans-

October 19, 2010

John Cornely, Executive Director of The Trumpeter Swan Society, shares this recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) press release, reminding us that “Powerline collisions are one of the leading causes of Trumpeter Swan Mortality throughout there range in North America. The Trumpeter Swan Society strongly encourages power companies, resource agencies, and conservation groups to work together to mitigate this hazard.” Here is the press release:

Ameren Missouri, with oversight from the (USFWS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), have begun installing 1,000 “swan diverters” on several miles of high-voltage “transmission” power lines that cross the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary on the Mississippi River, near West Alton, Mo. in an effort to protect Trumpeter Swans.

The devices—each about 12 inches long and resembling a giant yellow corkscrew—will be installed by workers from helicopters hovering above the USACE sanctuary. They will be placed on the highest static wires of non-electric transmission towers—towers that are designed to absorb lightning strikes—as a means of alerting swans.

Each winter, about 500 swans from Upper Midwest breeding grounds winter at the sanctuary. Agents from the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement, USACE and officials from Ameren Missouri became concerned about evidence of swans being injured or killed by flying into the transmission wires. With the diverters in place, the birds should be better able to see the structures and fly over or under them.

Nearly extinct at the turn of the twentieth century, over the past 30 years, Trumpeter Swan populations have risen by about 400 percent, due to the conservation efforts of USFWS, the Trumpeter Swan Society, various state department of natural resources, conservation areas like the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary and concerned citizens.

John Christian, Assistant Director for Migratory Birds and State Programs, USFWS noted that this growing winter population supports the Mississippi Flyway Council’s efforts to disperse the wintering population of this Upper Midwest nester to suitable sites well south of the breeding range where they find both abundant forage and a more hospitable climate.” Christian added that “we are most pleased to see industry partnering on protecting these majestic birds.”

Charlie Duetsch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adds that helping the wintering swans is in line with the sanctuary’s and the Corps’ commitment to stewardship, environmental education and expanded outdoor recreation opportunities. “The swan project allows us to balance the role of the rivers in a national transportation corridor, the environmental attributes of the area and the modern-day need for power,” he says. “It’s a very unique and creative project.”

Ameren Missouri, founded in 1902, provides electric and gas service to approximately 1.2 million customers across central and eastern Missouri, including the greater St. Louis area.

Andy Buhl, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Midwest Region of USFWS praised Ameren Missouri’s efforts saying “We encourage industrial companies to coordinate with the Fish and Wildlife Service to develop best practices to avoid the take of migratory birds and other protected wildlife.”