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HOPES FOR MIGRATING TRUMPETER SWAN FLOCK RISE



     

     
       For Immediate Release
       May 27, 1999
       EA 99-22
     
       Contact:  Mike Oliver 812-522-4352
       E-mail:        Mike_Oliver@mail.fws.gov
     
     
       HOPES FOR MIGRATING TRUMPETER SWAN
       FLOCK RISE
       WITH RETURN OF MUSCATATUCK BIRD TO
       CANADA
     
       Bringing with her the hopes for a new migrating population 
       of rare trumpeter swans, a female trumpeter has made the 
       730-mile return journey from Muscatatuck National Wildlife 
       Refuge to Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.  Part of an experiment 
       to establish a new migratory flock, the trumpeter was one of 
       four swans that followed an ultra-light aircraft last winter 
       from Canada to southern Indiana in an effort to teach the 
       birds a migratory route between summer nesting grounds
       and a new wintering area.
     
       The trumpeters left Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge 
       in early February.  The female made the return trip to
       Canada without the help of the ultra-light to lead the way. 
       Her arrival on May 5, 1999, back at the site where she and 
       other trumpeters were trained to follow an ultra-light was 
       confirmed by members of the Migratory Bird Research
       Group, the team of scientists who trained the birds.
     
       "This is a very exciting step in the process of establishing a 
       new migratory flock of trumpeters," said Muscatatuck
       Refuge Biologist Mike Oliver.  "The fact that this trumpeter 
       made it back to the training site in Canada means she, and 
       possibly the other birds, learned the migratory route by 
       following the ultra-light south last winter.  Our hope is that 
       some of the other Muscatatuck birds will also return, and 
       ultimately, that one or more of them make the fall journey back 
       to southern Indiana to spend the winter."
     
       Efforts by the Migratory Bird Research Group to reestablish 
       such a population began in the summer of 1998.  Migratory 
       Bird Research Group biologist Wayne Bezner-Kerr and his 
       colleagues experimented with various techniques to raise 
       young trumpeters and teach them to follow an ultra-light 
       aircraft.  After months of practice, a group of young swans 
       departed their training grounds in southern Ontario in early 
       December and followed Bezner-Kerr, who piloted the ultra- 
       light.
     
       The group of four trumpeters flew with the ultra-light along 
       a route through Michigan, Ohio, and into Indiana.  They 
       reached their final stop, Muscatatuck National Wildlife 
       Refuge, near Seymour, Indiana, on December 23, 1998.
       The trumpeters then wintered at the refuge, while refuge 
       staff kept a close eye on them.
     
       "Since the time the swans left the refuge in February, we 
       had no confirmation of the trumpeters' location until the 
       female was reported May 5," said Oliver.  "We hope the 
       remaining swans will be accounted for soon."
     
       Trumpeter swans, the largest waterfowl in North America, 
       once existed throughout much of the northern United States 
       and wintered as far south as southern Indiana and Illinois. 
       However, unregulated killing and loss of habitat caused 
       populations to dwindle.  Before last winter's historic 
       experimental flight, a migrating population had not been 
       seen in southern Indiana for more than 100 years.
     
       The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal 
       agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and 
       enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the 
       continuing benefit of the American people. The Service 
       manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
       System comprising more than 500 National Wildlife 
       Refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special 
       management areas. It also operates 65 National Fish
       Hatcheries, 64 Fish and Wildlife Assistance Offices, and 78 
       Ecological Services Field Offices.  The agency enforces 
       federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species 
       Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally
       significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat 
       such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their 
       conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid
       program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in 
       excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state 
       wildlife agencies.  For more information about endangered 
       species and other programs managed by the Service, please 
       visit our web site at: http://www.fws.gov/r3pao/
     
       -FWS-