As I browsed my copy of the February 19th edition of Outdoor News last night, I read about how Minnesota’s moose population continues to struggle, despite a slight increase in estimated population from 2015 to 2016 (to read more, click here). To be honest, I was both sad and disappointed to read that one of Minnesota’s largest and most fascinating game animals has been slipping steadily since 2006, with a population today that sits at only about half of the 8,000+ animals that roamed Northeast MN during that year.
It’s gloomy news for sure, but I’m here to write about another Minnesota native that’s thriving.
Outdoor News included an article about another Minnesota giant and it’s incredible population resurgence to help those like me who needed cheering up. Trumpeter swans are one of North America’s greatest wildlife success stories. In the late 1800s the beautiful, white birds were almost completely eliminated from the United States for food and other uses. Reintroduction of the birds into the state began in the early 1980s, and by 2010 about 6,000 swans could be found throughout the Minnesota.
The latest DNR report estimates that around 17,000 swans now breed in Minnesota, an incredible achievement for wildlife managers both in the state and across the country. Minnesota now has the largest population of swans in the upper Midwest – quite the accomplishment. What I find most incredible about the sudden resurgence of the birds – which commonly weigh up to 30 pounds – is that much of the money raised for their reintroduction and protection has come from private donations, including Minnesota residents who select the Nongame Wildlife donation box on their state income tax forms.
I was extremely happy upon reading the news of the recent DNR Trumpeter Swan report. As an avid waterfowl hunter and enthusiast, I am so pleased to see just how much the time, energy, and money provided by both the DNR and private organizations such as the Trumpeter Swan Society has benefited Minnesota’s swan population.
They truly are magnificent birds, weighing up to 30 pounds and having wingspans nearly seven feet long. I always look forward to hearing their distinctive call of a mating pair each spring and fall as they migrate through the state. I get giddy when I’m out duck hunting and they fly just overhead, their gigantic wings beating against the cool, fall air.
The males are also pretty great dads (and husbands), too.
Despite the success of these swans in Minnesota, the birds are not totally out of the woods. According to the report, they still face threats from loss of wetland habitat, poaching, and lead poisoning from shotgun pellets and fishing weights. But with the help of the Department of Natural Resources and the other public and private organizations committed to the continued success of Trumpeter swans, the future is looking bright for the birds.
The news of Minnesota’s declining moose population looks bleak. The outlook of the largest native waterfowl species in North America, however, is something for Minnesotans to celebrate.