Updated October 2012
TTSS AND TRUMPETERS SAY GOODBYE TO A GREAT FRIEND
On October 9, 2012, the Society lost Director and friend Joe Johnson. W. C. "Joe" Johnson wrote and implemented the restoration plan for Trumpeter Swans for Michigan and served as the State's Trumpeter Swan restoration coordinator. He led the very successful effort to restore the magnificent Trumpeter to part of its historical nesting range after over a century.
The native of Kalamazoo was best known for his waterfowl and wetland expertise, but his interests and experience were much broader. Joe was an avid hunter and served on the National Board of Directors of Pheasants Forever for 16 years. He was elected to the Board of Directors of The Trumpeter Swan Society in 2003 and was an active member and TTSS Conference participant for many years prior to that. Since 1987, he has been the Chair of the Mississippi Flyway Council's Swan Committee, continuing to serve even in retirement. At the time of his swan song, he was leading the Flyway Council's effort to revise the management plan for Trumpeters.
Joe worked at Michigan State University's W. K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary for 48 years. He retired in 2007 after being the sanctuary's Manager since 1985. In addition to his excellent work with swans, he was instrumental in the successful return of Giant Canada Geese to Michigan.
Joe spent his last days at Rose Arbor Hospice Center that is surrounded by a natural space with ponds frequented by flocks of Canada geese. As Joe's family left Rose Arbor all of the geese took flight hours earlier than their normal routine to escort Joe to the his next Sanctuary. We will sorely miss his friendship and good counsel. We will have to search for someone else to keep us in line according to Robert's Rules of Order. He was truly one of kind!
When he retired the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary established the Joe Johnson Endowment Fund for Wildlife Conservation Fellowship. This fund provides support for students who want to study and work with wildlife conservation and habitat preservation or restoration at the Sanctuary. The Directors and staff of TTSS are going to make a contribution to the fund to honor Joe for his outstanding contributions to swan conservation and his leadership in TTSS. We invite you to do the same.
To contribute you may go online to: http://www.kbs.msu.edu/giving/joe-johnson-fund.
TTSS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR BECKY ABEL SELECTED AS 2012 TOYOTA/AUDUBON TOGETHERGREEN FELLOW
June 2012 - Becky Abel, TTSS Associate Director, has won a 2012 Audubon & Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship (and a grant for $10,000) for a project to work with electric energy companies to reduce Trumpeter Swan collisions with power lines. Abel was one of 40 fellows nationwide selected for this prestigious award. The TogetherGreen Fellowship Program invests in high-potential individuals from all backgrounds, providing them with resources, visibility, and a growing peer network to help them lead communities nationwide to a healthier environmental future. TTSS is excited for the increased visibility that this award will give to Trumpeter Swans and the issues surrounding their conservation.
Read the Press Release | Learn more about Becky's project
MONTANA APPROVES NEW TRUMPETER SWAN RESTORATION PROGRAM
Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission has voted to approve a new program to restore nesting Trumpeter Swans in the Madison River Valley, northwest of Yellowstone National Park. The swans that nest in Greater Yellowstone are the only breeding population that escaped extinction in the Lower 48 states. They are the smallest and most vulnerable nesting group in North America. This is one of several projects in the region to that are working to improve swan habitat and restore nesting pairs. Read the full story
TTSS JOINS LAWSUIT CHALLENGING EPA'S FAILURE TO PROTECT WILDLIFE FROM LEAD POISONING
Millions of Birds, Other Wildlife, Poisoned Yearly by Lead Ammunition Left in Wild-Including Eagles, Condors, Swans, Loons
Seven conservation groups filed suit on June 7th against the Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to address toxic lead in hunting ammunition that frequently poisons and kills eagles, swans, loons, endangered California condors and other wildlife, as well as affecting human health. Ignoring well-established science on the dangers of lead poisoning from spent ammunition, the EPA refuses to acknowledge or evaluate risks to wildlife and human health. The EPA in April denied a petition requesting a public process to consider regulations for nontoxic hunting ammunition. This lawsuit challenges that decision. Read the full story
THE TRUMPETER SWAN SOCIETY RECEIVES MAJOR GRANT FROM THE YELLOWSTONE TO YUKON CONSERVATION INITIATIVE FOR WORK IN MONTANA'S CENTENNIAL VALLEY
The Trumpeter Swan Society is most grateful to the (Y2Y) Partner Grants Program for supporting our efforts to protect to swan habitat in Montana’s Centennial Valley. Y2Y recently announced their grant of $4,500 to support our Centennial Valley Cooperative Wetland Conservation Project. The Centennial Valley, including Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, contains the single-most important nesting and molting habitat for Greater Yellowstone’s fragile Trumpeter Swan nesting flock. Read the full story
SALISH, KOOTENAI TRIBES WIN NATIONAL CONSERVATION AWARD
Former TTSS Board President Dale Becker accepts National Wildlife Federation Award on behalf of the Confederated Salish Kootanai Tribes, May 17, 2012 at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Read the full story
REMEMBERING A FOUNDING FATHER OF THE TRUMPETER SWAN SOCIETY, PETER WARD
Peter Ward was one of the founding fathers of The Trumpeter Swan Society in 1968. He died suddenly on March 24 at the age of 92 in his home in Portagela Prairie, Manitoba. Up until last May, Peter had been an integral part of the Delta Marsh for decades – “Delta Waterfowl’s ‘legend-in-residence.’” Read the full story
MEMORIAL SERVICES FOR THE TRUMPETER SWAN SOCIETY PAST PRESIDENT AND BOARD MEMBER, HAROLD H. BURGESS SET FOR 2PM, JUNE 16, 2012 IN WESLACO, TEXAS
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. Read the full story
TTSS BOARD MEMBER BOB BLOHM RECEIVES THE 2012 GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL MEMORIAL AWARD BY THE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE (WMI)
This award, established in honor of the acknowledged "Father of American Conservation" - George Bird Grinnell - it is WMI's highest honor for individual contribution to conservation in North America. TTSS Congratulates Bob!
Revered waterfowl biologist and consummate conservationist Robert "Bob" Blohm was honored with the Wildlife Management Institute’s (WMI) 2012 George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Natural Resource Conservation. The award was conferred last month during the annual Conservation Administrators Luncheon at the 77th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
The award, established in honor of the acknowledged “Father of American Conservation” - George Bird Grinnell - is WMI’s highest honor for individual contribution to conservation in North America. Presenting the award was WMI President, Steve Williams, who noted that Blohm’s thirty-two year tenure with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was characterized by “unassuming and selfless qualities of character and a dedication to the science and principles of wildlife management.”
During his career, Blohm served in a variety of leadership roles within the Service’s Office of Migratory Bird Management. He started as staff biologist before moving on to Chief of the Section of Population, then Chief of the Branch of Operations (later renamed the Branch of Surveys and Assessment), followed by Deputy Division Chief, and, finally, as the Division Chief. His extensive involvement in the administration and leadership of the Migratory Bird Management Office positioned him to play a crucial role in nearly every major North American waterfowl initiative or controversy since the 1980s.
His contributions to the field of waterfowl management include the design of seminal waterfowl population studies, administration of duck banding programs for the “Stabilized Regulations” initiative, and the supervision of operations to integrate duck population dynamics into North American waterfowl hunting regulations for more than 20 years. Additionally, Blohm oversaw the completion of the waterfowl population trends report, harvest survey reports, the Waterfowl Status Report, Adaptive Harvest Management Report, and was instrumental to the framing of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
"Those who have known and worked with Bob note that his leadership style, though quiet and understated, is founded upon a deep understanding of wildlife and an overriding confidence in the ability of well-informed people to manage their future,” said Williams. “Bob’s integrity, affability and calm demeanor have earned him a vast legion of friends within and outside the wildlife profession.”
THE 2010 NORTH AMERICAN TRUMPETER SWAN SURVEY
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) just released the 2010 North American Trumpeter Swan Survey Report, compiled by FWS biologist Deborah Groves stationed in Juneau, Alaska. The Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS) commends Debbie for coordinating and summarizing this massive undertaking. Along with FWS, Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), provinces, states, territories, other agencies, and other private organizations, TTSS is an active survey participant and facilitator. Read the report
FORMER TTSS BOARD MEMBER HARRY LUMSDEN HAS RECEIVED THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR'S ONTARIO HERITAGE AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Former TTSS Board Member Harry Lumsden has received the Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement this year. This prestigious award honors individuals who have made contributions to preserving, protecting and promoting community heritage for 25 years or more. The community of Aurora, where Mr. Lumsden resides, celebrated his award, along with other community member awards, at an evening ceremony at the town council on February 23, 2012. Mr. Lumdsen was presented with his award at the Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award Ceremony held at Queen's Park on Friday, February 24, 2012. The event coincided with Heritage Week in Ontario, February 20 to 26. Read full story
TTSS COMPLETES FIRST YEAR OF THE CENTENNIAL VALLEY PROJECT
Southwest Montana's Centennial Valley is crucially important to the survival of Trumpeter Swans that nest in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. During summer 2011, The Trumpeter Swan Society funded monitoring and research at over 30 historic nesting territories on private ranches and public lands west of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Swan use and nesting success at these territories has declined in recent years. Our Centennial Valley Project is working in partnership with local ranch owners to document current swan use and habitat conditions. Our goal is to identify and implement habitat improvement projects that will restore the productivity of these nesting territories. Increasing nesting and cygnet production in these territories will increase the security of the Greater Yellowstone Trumpeter Swans and help connect them to the restoration flocks in western Montana. Our recent released report on the Centennial Valley Project 2011 documents the high potential of this area and builds the knowledge base for future site-specific habitat projects.
Read the report (pdf 6.5 megs)
SWAN SONG: WASHINGTON TRUMPETERS FACE THREATS FROM POACHING, LEAD POISONING
January 30, 2012 ~ The Monroe Monitor and Valley News
It may seem like there are so many trumpeter swans around in the winter that the loss of a few would not be cause for alarm.
But the swans people see in Western Washington in the winter represent a sizable portion of all the trumpeter swans in the nation.
So when some of them die at the hands of poachers and others perish from ingesting lead items found in the environment, stewards of the birds take it seriously.
This winter, three birds were shot in Snohomish County, one at the Tualco Valley's Crescent Lake. A dozen more die county wide each year from eating lead, and one of the areas rich in lead is also Crescent Lake.
Now wildlife biologist Martha Jordan, chair of the Washington Swan Stewards, hopes to educate sports people on how best to enjoy the outdoors without harming swans as they do it.
According to Jordan, there are about 40,000 swans on the North American continent, and 28,000 of them live between the Cascades and the Pacific Ocean. Read full story
ILLEGAL SHOOTINGS - A THREAT TO TRUMPETER SWANS
2011/2012: Washington State Hotline to Report Trumpeter Deaths
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has re-established a hotline to report dead or ill swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties as the agency monitors trumpeter swans that are ill or have died of lead poisoning.
People can call 360-466-4345, Ext. 266, to report dead or sick swans. Callers should be prepared to leave a message that includes their name, phone number, and the location and condition of the swans. The hot line is available 24 hours a day through March. The Trumpeter Swan Society has been working with partners in Washington to locate sources of lead since 2001. TTTS has supported this effort and assists the agencies in responding to reports of dead and dying swans.
FROM OUR BLOG
GAME & FISH DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NATURE CONSERVANCY ON WETLANDS
September 20, 2011 ~ View the PDF
JACKSON – An important wetlands study in Wyoming recently received a financial boost from an Environmental Protection Agency grant. The grant awarded to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will provide $98,000 for a wetlands study to be completed in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The two-year study, and inventory, will provide foundational data on wetland conditions in the Upper Green River Basin for future wetland protection and restoration efforts. This new information will expand upon a basic statewide wetland assessment completed by both organizations in 2010.
"The Nature Conservancy is proud to partner with the Game and Fish on this project because we both know healthy wetlands mean a better environment and a stronger economy in Wyoming," says Holly Copeland, ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming. "Wetlands provide natural flood control, store carbon and help fight pollution. They also provide great economic value through clean water recreation and fisheries." Read full story
TTSS FEATURED IN JULY 2011 ALASKA AIRLINES MAGAZINE
TTSS was recently featured in the July 2011 Alaska Airlines, Horizon Edition magazine, in an article on Trumpeter Swans and Red Rock Lakes NWR, noting the Society's work to reduce the threats of lead to Trumpeters Swans.
"WHEN JOHN JAMES AUDUBON was studying and painting trump~terswans in the early 1800s, he wrote that bird-watchers who see these magnificent creatures "will feel, as I have felt, more happy and void of care than I can describe..."
View the online edition | View the PDF
DIRECTOR RUTH SHEA REPORTS ON A RECENT NATIONAL PARK SERVICE HOSTED MEETING ON THE FUTURE OF TRUMPETER SWANS IN YELLOWSTONE
By Ruth Shea, May 2011 ~ TTSS Blog
A Report from the Field, from Ruth Shea
Yellowstone National Parkplayed a crucial role in the 1930s in preventing the extinction of Trumpeter Swans in the lower 48 states. At their peak in the 1970s, over 50 Trumpeters summered in the Park and there were about 20 nesting territories. Now, after a decline spanning over 30 years, only a handful of swans still summer in the Park and only one nesting pair remains. In an effort to examine all possible options for saving Yellowstone’s swans, the National Park Service (NPS) convened about 30 swan, waterfowl, and wetland experts for a 2-day workshop, April 26-27, 2011 in Bozeman, Montana.
Having studied Yellowstone’s swans for my Master’s thesis in the 1970s, and now coordinating TTSS’s Greater Yellowstone Initiative, this issue has great personal interest to me. I attended the workshop on behalf of TTSS and made the opening presentation summarizing the history of the Park’s swans. The reasons for the decline are complex and it was wonderful that the NPS brought so many scientists to contemplate the problems and possible solutions.
While there may be other unknown factors involved in the decline, my research indicates that human disturbance, dating back to the 1930s, has played a major role in damaging nesting success and eliminating nesting swans from preferred habitats in the park. Coupled with the disruption of the swan families’ traditional patterns of habitat use and possible genetic problems, maintaining nesting Trumpeters inYellowstoneis a very difficult challenge.
TTSS commends the NPS for its efforts to improve this very difficult situation and we look forward to providing all possible assistance to the NPS. Please see our next issue of Trumpetings, the Society’s publication for members, for further detail.
TOOT OUR HORN: SWANS REBOUND
By Glen Schmitt, March 26, 2011 ~ sctimes.com
Minnesota's Trumpeters Exceed 5000 in Five-Year Survey This article features TTSS Board Member Larry Gillette and chronicles a remarkable chapter in the success of Trumpeter Swan restoration.
The return of trumpeter swans to Minnesota is considered one of the state’s great wildlife success stories.
Consider that just more than 40 years ago, trumpeter’s no longer existed anywhere in the state. Up until the 1970s you have to go back to the mid-1800s to find record of trumpeter swans in Minnesota.
With the aid of some dedicated individuals and an accelerated swan restoration program, the trumpeter swan is back and more prevalent now than anyone could have expected.
A statewide aerial survey conducted in January revealed that the current population of trumpeter swans in the state has more than doubled in the last five years ... Read full story
PENINSULA TRUMPETER SWAN PELTED WITH SHOT, KILLED; FIVE DEAD SINCE NOVEMBER
By Jeff Chew, February 02, 2011
DUNGENESS -- State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents are investigating the fatal shooting of a trumpeter swan, whose carcass was found Monday in a pond off Woodcock Road near Buttercup Lane.
Shelly Ament, a biologist with Fish and Wildlife, said that X-rays showed 41 shot gun pellets in the 19-pound bird's carcass.
"Since I've been here, I think this is the first one we can confirm was shot," said Ament, who has worked in the Dungeness Valley for 19 years.
Trumpeter swans are protected, and killing trumpeter swans, even accidentally while hunting sport species, violates several state and federal laws.
The Mill Creek-based Trumpeter Swan Society is offering a reward of $500 to the person whose information leads to the arrest and conviction of the shooter or shooters, said Martha Jordan, a wildlife biologist with the society.
When and where the swan was shot is unknown, Ament said.
The bird was spotted on the pond Friday, she said, and found dead Monday at the far end of the pond with another trumpeter swan nearby ... Read full story
TRUMPETER SWANS TRY TO DODGE A BULLET
By Bruce Dorminey, January 31, 2011
Having survived an extinction scare a century ago, the world’s largest waterfowl is stalked by the remnants of past shotgun blasts.
At first glance, Crescent Lake, a shallow body abutting a cornfield in upper Snohomish County, Wash., would appear to be perfectly pristine. Mallard and pintail ducks skirt the edges of its banks on waters that — in this contaminated age at least — would seem to be as untouched as anyone could hope.
But as wildlife biologist Martha Jordan explained on a recent rain-sodden Northwest afternoon, the lake has become lethal to the celebrated trumpeter swan, the world’s largest waterfowl.
The trumpeter swan, or cygnus buccinators, winters along hundreds of miles of the Pacific Northwest. For more than a decade, however, large numbers of these birds have died from lead shot — not shot fired at them, but historical deposits of shot fired from shotguns of days gone by.
The lead can be picked up as grit or consumed by accident along with the swan’s food source. Because birds don’t have teeth, they use the grit to help break up or grind their food in their gizzards ... Read full story
AGENCY DECISION THREATENS TRUMPETER SWANS IN IDAHOby Ruth Shea
A recent decision by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to expand a late winter Snow Goose hunt in southeast Idaho would jeopardize Trumpeter Swan use of important prebreeding habitat near Fort Hall at the north end of American Falls Reservoir. TTSS is asking IDFG and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to reverse this decision and protect Trumpeter Swans in this area.
TTSS is not "antihunting." Several TTSS staff and Board members have been long-term managers of waterfowl hunts during their careers and TTSS is not opposed to well-managed waterfowl hunting. However, the design of this hunt is flawed. It would jeopardize important Trumpeter Swan habitat-use patterns that took many years, great effort, and great expense to create.
Beginning in 1988, the USFWS, the Pacific Flyway Council, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Idaho, several other western states, and TTSS undertook a massive effort to disperse wintering Trumpeter Swans from high elevation areas of Harriman State Park, Idaho, and Red Rock Lakes NWR (RRLNWR), Montana. The goal was to encourage migrations southward to milder wintering sites where swans would gain access to new winter and early spring food sources.
This very difficult effort included termination of winter feeding at RRLNWR, massive hazing of swans from high-risk sites, and relocation of over 250 Trumpeters Swans to Fort Hall from RRLNWR (101), Harriman State Park (135), and from captive rearing (25+). Agencies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the new migration to Fort Hall to help increase population security. Winter translocations involved nighttime capture on icy waters, often at near-zero temperatures, with great risk to those who braved those dangerous conditions.
The American Falls wintering area is the biggest success of the range expansion effort, with over 500 Trumpeters present in recent winters. Swans have gradually learned to field feed in areas north and west of the reservoir in late winter. Late-winter nutrition is key to nesting success of the region's Trumpeters and regional managers are struggling to protect and enhance these crucial prebreeding habitats. The proposed hunt expansion would open the most important swan prebreeding habitats to Snow Goose hunting from February 19 to March 10, when these areas normally receive heavy swan use.
TTSS will ask IDFG to reverse the hunt expansion and maintain at least the same secure areas provided by the 2010 hunt boundary. We also ask that IDFG closely monitor the distribution of swans and geese in the American Falls area during the hunt and take immediate measures to prevent hunter activity from displacing swans from their normal feeding areas if problems arise.
The USFWS and IDFG should also examine potential impacts of continuing a Snow Goose hunt in this area. Our primary concern is that any late hunt will concentrate Snow Geese in the closed areas with swans, thus increasing the potential for crop damage in the closed area, as well as disease transmission from geese to swans. Watch our website for updates on this issue.