[mou] [mnbird] Trumpeter Swan buildup danger

Larson Kelly northernflights at charter.net
Mon Jan 14 14:22:36 CST 2008


please take no offense at my line of questioning. I have not been to  
Monticello to see the swans. You may have access to more information  
than we do and might better inform all of us.

If the feeding at Monticello stops, are the swans not likely to stage  
in large numbers elsewhere? How many birds are typical wintering  
flocks comprised of? Is it not in the very nature of waterfowl to  
winter in large numbers at safe, food productive sites? If they move  
further south, out of state, won't we lose the ability to protect and  
manage the population within our borders?

It would be devastating to lose the population at this site because  
of a zoonotic event. But does moving the flock to another site  
diminish that risk? At Monticello the swans can be easily monitored  
and should the need arise, captured and vetted. I would imagine a  
more remote location would pose difficulties both in manning a daily  
monitoring effort and delivering health care. We are all aware of the  
funding cuts wildlife and conservation programs have endured for  
years, at all levels of government. Utilizing volunteers and citizens  
groups is often the only way left to get things done.

Rather than breaking up this site, what about actively attracting  
some of the swans to use additional sites within the state? Could you  
use bait, calls and decoys to establish new wintering groups? Could  
this be an opportunity to partner a new project with DU and the  
energy companies?

Kelly Larson
Bemidji Minnesota

Eschew Obfuscation!
The middle of Nowhere is Somewhere!

On Jan 14, 2008, at 9:28 AM, Robert_Russell at fws.gov wrote:

> My personal belief and whispered talk around my agency is that this  
> artificially-induced buildup of Trumpeter Swans at Monticello is a  
> disaster waiting to happen. Such huge buildups of swans are way  
> beyond the natural concentrations of swans in most areas of its  
> natural range. The potential for a disease such as botulism to wipe  
> out a large portion of a wintering flock has been documented in  
> Idaho a couple of decades ago when several hundred swans died.  
> Swans are also subject to other diseases (cholera, avian  
> tuberculosis, various forms of avian flu) which spread faster and  
> with more devastation in crowded surroundings. My big fear is that  
> the trematodes that killed 6,000-7,000 scaup (both species) and 200  
> coots (different trematode) on the Upper Mississippi at Lake  
> Winnibigoshis and killed 22,000 to 26,000 (!!) lesser scaup and  
> coots in spring 2006 in the LaCrosse area will spread north or  
> south and affect the wintering grounds at Monticello. The  
> trematodes near LaCrosse are associated with the exotic faucet  
> snail (from Europe I believe) while an exotic snail at Lake Winnie  
> (introduced from eastern USA) may be to blame for the waterfowl  
> deaths there. While snails may not be a primary forage item for  
> snails, ingestion seems inevitable in the shallow waters of the  
> Mississippi as does the spread of these snails and associated  
> trematodes all along the Mississippi River. Before we have a major  
> disaster at this site which could set back swan restoration in the  
> Midwest back a decade or more, someone needs to act to encourage  
> these birds to migrate farther south, like maybe prohibiting  
> feeding when the birds first show up in the fall. Trumpeter Swan  
> Society are you listening? Bob Russell, US Fish and Wildlife Service
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