Trumpeter swan numbers rose dramatically this year on the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge near Rock Springs. This winter, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department conducted an aerial survey of the refuge and counted over 300 trumpeter swans wintering there.
Refuge Manager Tom Koerner says that’s a record for the refuge. He says the birds were brought close to extinction in the early 19-hundreds because of over-hunting. “If you look at some of the historical records, they were actually selling the hides from trumpeter swans,” he says. “They would use the feathers from the wings for quill pens. They were actually fairly valuable to sell during the fur trading era.”
Koerner says conservation efforts to improve trumpeter numbers had a bumpy start in the early 90’s. Trumpeters tend to return to their original migration routes, even after being transplanted. And it takes a long time to grow their population because they only raise one or two young each year. But a few generations of trumpeters have now established themselves at the refuge and numbers have increased steadily. The birds will soon migrate on to summer nesting grounds in Montana, Idaho and Canada.