Trumpeter swans released in Yellowstone to help restore population

JACKSON, Wyo. — On Saturday, September 19, staff from Yellowstone National Park, the Wyoming Wetlands Society, and Ricketts Conservation Foundation released eight young trumpeter swans (cygnets) at Alum Creek in Hayden Valley.

This release is part of an ongoing restoration project to increase territorial pairs of swans that have undergone a decades-long decline in the park. From a high of over 60 birds and 17 territorial pairs in the early 1960s to only four birds in 2009 and 2010, the swan population has declined for a variety of reasons. Researchers are collecting population data such as nest success, number of territorial pairs, and the number of cygnets produced each year. This data may help determine the reasons for the decline.

Recent releases and other restoration efforts have bolstered the population to over 20 birds and five territorial pairs, including natural reproduction in some years.

The effort is a public/private partnership between the National Park Service, Wyoming Wetlands Society, Ricketts Conservation Fund, and Montana State University. Joe Ricketts, the founder of Ricketts Conservation Foundation, participated in the recent cygnet release. His fund also supports other avian conservation efforts in the region, including common loons and Clark’s nutcrackers.

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