The continued attempts of trumpeter swans to nest at the Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area means that Idaho Fish and Game will again delay opening access to parts of the area until July 1.
Areas specifically restricted from fishing and public access until July 1 include Ponds 2 and 4 in the main pond complex.
"Access is being restricted because the nesting swans are generally intolerant of disturbance by humans, especially with younger pairs or nests established in areas of low human activity," area manager Josh Rydalch said.
This is the 16th year that Fish and Game has closed these spots that are otherwise popular on the opening weekend of fishing season.
"Without the closures, the chances are good that human disturbance would cause the swans to abandon their nests, resulting in a loss of production for the year," Rydalch said.
Successful nesting of trumpeter swans is a concern because the birds are a priority species under the Species of Special Concern designation in Idaho. That means they are to receive as much protection as necessary to promote successful reproduction. Past closures have proven successful and have helped trumpeter swan population numbers rebound from their lowest point in a half a century.
In 1996, for example, Sand Creek had three of the 12 active nests in the Upper Snake Region - the entire state of Idaho had only 21 - and produced eight of 31 cygnets hatched in the Upper Snake - only 51 hatched in the entire state that year. For unknown reasons, however, only one of the eight cygnets survived to flight stage, which illustrates how delicate the process of trumpeter swan reproduction is.
Sand Creek is the only wildlife management area in the state to host nesting trumpeter swans. Last year none of the nests at Sand Creek produced any eggs that hatched. Unfortunately, this occurred across the state at sites that previously had been productive.
The cooperation of sportsmen at Sand Creek will help to insure the success of the recovery efforts.
The remainder of the wildlife management area is open to the public, and anglers are still invited to enjoy fishing at Ponds 1 and 3 and Blue Creek Reservoir. Trumpeter swans may be looking at Pond 3 for nesting as well this year, but access has not been restricted there yet.
A leak in Pond 3 was repaired after the pond was drained last year. The pond has been refilled but has yet to be restocked with fish. Area users are asked to respect all wildlife, especially nesting waterfowl.