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Harriman Trumpeter Swan Project Asks Public To Report Swan Sightings

Island Park - For the third year in a row, multiple state, federal, and tribal agencies are working together to help promote the continued success of the ongoing trumpeter swan recovery efforts. This year, citizens are being asked to help out by reporting trumpeter swans that have been marked and then released.

The project is formally titled "Winter Translocations of Trumpeter Swans in Southeast Idaho," and it has been designed to test the effectiveness of trapping and relocation of immature trumpeter swans, that are called cygnets. Wildlife Biologist Lauri Hanauska-Brown of IDFG is spearheading the project. Along with IDFG, other state and federal agencies include: Idaho Parks & Recreation (IDPR), the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe is also involved.

The reason that this study was undertaken is that while the trumpeter swan populations nationwide have made tremendous comebacks, the intermountain population has focused as their primary wintering grounds the Henry's Fork River in and around Harriman Sate Park. Depending on winter conditions and the number of birds, if left unchecked, a harsh winter could result in a potentially serious situation for either the birds or the aquatic habitat of the world-famous trout fishery on the Henrys Fork.

In order to alleviate the potentially detrimental buildup of swans, the project is evaluating the success of trapping cygnets and then relocating them further to south to the Bear River. It is hoped that the young birds can be induced into dispersing to new wintering areas by hooking them up with swans that already have knowledge of other areas. Last year a total of 78 birds were trapped. This year 100 trumpeter swans are being trapped and fitted with numbered colored collars. Half of the collars contain hi-tech radio transmitters. All of the birds being moved are having their right wing painted bright pink.

Trapping is only the first phase of the project. The public is being asked to help with the second phase of the project that involves monitoring the movements of the birds. "While temporary wildlife technicians have been hired to track birds, assistance from the public in reporting swan sightings is very important!" says Hanauska-Brown. Anyone who spots a swan with a green or yellow collar should call IDFG at 208-525-7290 and report the bird's location as soon as possible. In addition, the color and number of the collar are important information, along with whether or not the wing was painted pink.

Information from the public, along with radio telemetry tracking by the technicians will help the project evaluate the success of moving the young birds. According to Hanauska-Brown, "Swans marked last year were observed as far away as Arizona and California."