Originally native to Ontario, the trumpeter swan disappeared from Eastern Canada early in the 20th century. Restoration efforts were initiated in the early 1980s to reintroduce the trumpeter swan to its former range. Through conservation efforts the Ontario population has reached 1000, with at least 131 breeding pairs, and the future looks bright.
How the Swans Were Reintroduced
The trumpeter swan’s extirpation from eastern Canada roughly 200 years ago was primarily due to hunting pressure. Populations remaining in the western prairies were also severely affected by over-hunting and were eventually greatly reduced. These populations have since rebounded to the tens of thousands, while the Ontario population numbered 400 swans in 2002.
In 1982 biologist Harry Lumsden initiated the Ontario Trumpeter Swan Re-introduction Program.The first captive pair arrived at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in 1988, and were named Big Guy and Lady Girl (or Wye and Marie to some). In 1990, Wye Marsh staff witnessed the hatching of two eggs, the first trumpeter swan cygnets known to hatch in the Wye Marsh in over 200 years. A snapping turtle predated one of the cygnets shortly after hatching, while the other, a female, survived to affectionately become known as Pig Pen, who in 1993 raised the first known wild family of trumpeter swans in Ontario in over 200 years.
A recent report authored by Mr. Harry Lumsden, the coordinator of the Ontario Trumpeter Swan Program, has confirmed for the first time in the program’s history, the objectives have been attained in reaching a self sustaining population of trumpeter swans. At this time, records have confirmed that there are now an estimated 1000 individuals in the province of Ontario and an estimated 131 breeding pairs. Every healthy individual and breeding pair is an extremely valuable asset to the Trumpeter Swan Program as their success will largely influence the continuation of an increasing population.
Originally native to Ontario, the trumpeter swan disappeared from Eastern Canada early in the 20th century. Restoration efforts were initiated in the early 1980’s to reintroduce the trumpeter swan to its former range.
Wye Marsh joined restoration efforts in 1988 with Wye Marsh staff and volunteers monitoring approximately one third of the Ontario trumpeter swan population.
Swans of Wye Marsh
New to the Wye Marsh Trumpeter Swan Program is one permanent resident swan housed in the pond at the treatment centre. This swan is a male, named Roscoe. Last fall, Roscoe experienced a wing injury that has left him flightless. Although it is unfortunate that he will no longer be able to fly or survive on his own in the wild, he now has a safe place to live, and will be cared for. The swans living quarters provide them with a natural setting, which is also close enough to allow viewing for educational purposes.
Shifting Support For Swans
As the swans continue to multiply, there are some changes that must occur in their care, including a decreased attempt to feed swans throughout the growing season when a natural food source is plentiful. A decreased reliance on supplemented food during this time will encourage trumpeters to continue to expand throughout their range in a more natural setting, as well as to ensure that they are consuming the nutrients that their bodies require naturally.
The plan for the future is to only feed the swans in order to gather them together for tagging and banding. Tagging and banding is essential for a successful monitoring program and it expected to be done during times when swans are staging at Wye Marsh in late fall and early spring.
During the winter, Wye Marsh will continue to keep an air bubbler system running to allow open water for our resident swans and those swans preferring to endure local winter conditions rather than migrate south. Lake Ontario has provided a satisfactory wintering ground for many Ontario trumpeters for the last fifteen years.
There are a number of ways for wildlife enthusiasts to become involved in the Wye Marsh Trumpeter Swan Program. The public are encouraged to send in reports of trumpeter swan sightings. Sightings include all trumpeter swans, tagged and/or banded, untagged, adult and cygnets, and should include as much information as possible, such as location, total number of individuals, general comments about behaviour, appearance and health, etc.
Wye Marsh welcomes volunteers to the Swan Program to assist with occasional feeding and monitoring of wild trumpeters as well as monitoring and caring for the permanent resident swans, and care and recovery of any sick and injured trumpeter swans.
Between 1997 and 2007, 51 swans have been “adopted” through the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre. Donations are encouraged and may be used towards purchasing feed for tagging and banding purposes, medical bills, treatment for sick and injured swans, population and other research, educational materials, swan pond and berm rehabilitation, and more.
About Trumpeter Swans
The above story is based on materials provided by Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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