The largest of North American waterfowl, the Trumpeter Swan is resident throughout much of its range, but migratory in other parts. It was reduced to near extinction by the early 20th century. The Trumpeter Swan was hunted for its feathers throughout the 1600s - 1800s, causing a tremendous decline in its numbers. Its largest flight feathers made what were considered to be the best quality quill pens.
It was more than 90 years since Trumpeter Swans lived and bred in Minnesota when in 1966, the Hennepin County Park Reserve District brought the first trumpeter swans back to Minnesota from Red Rock Lakes, Montana. However, initial breeding efforts were not very successful. Continued efforts by local, State and federal agencies working finally brought initial success in 1982. From 1982-1985, the Minnesota DNR's Nongame Wildlife Program acquired trumpeter swan eggs from wildlife refuges in Montana and South Dakota, zoos, and private propagators. From 1986-1988, eggs were collected from wild trumpeter swan populations in Alaska. The eggs were incubated and the hatchlings reared at the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area in Anoka County. In 1987, the Nongame Wildlife Program released 21 two-year-old trumpeter swans near the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Becker County. Since then, more than 350 swans have been released in the state and Minnesota's trumpeter swan population now exceeds 2,400 birds. And in one of the coldest winters on record, several weeks ago two migrating trumpeter swans were seen less than a mile from our home in Fillmore County (southeastern Minnesota) The exact spot was a small park and pond with a spring which kept a little water open. Photography by Mr.Science (Gary) and Lance S.