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Oregon’s trumpeter swan breeding program adds new pair

December 3, 2018

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s trumpeter swan breeding program has a new pair of the elegant white water birds as part of its ongoing bid to restore the population of the species after it was hunted to near-extinction.

A 4-year-old male arrived at the Pronghorn Resort near Bend from Pennsylvania and his mate, a 3-year-old female, came from Indiana, The Bulletin reported Monday.

The birds were purchased for about $2,600 each by the Trumpeter Swam Society and arrived by a commercial airplane.

Bend resident Gary Ivey, past president of the Trumpeter Swan Society and former biologist at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, picked up the swans at the Portland International Airport and released them Nov. 12 at the resort. The swans can be seen gliding along a pond near the 18th hole of the resort’s Tom Fazio Championship Course.

“They seem to have taken to each other right away,” Ivey said.

The pair represents a potential boost to the state’s recovery effort.

In recent years, the repopulation effort hit multiple setbacks from illegal hunting and deadly run-ins with power lines, coyotes and even a lightning strike.

Last year, five pairs across the state produced 17 baby swans, or cygnets. But that is short of the state’s goal to have 15 breeding pairs, enough to sustain a wild population.

State wildlife officials hope the new pair starts mating in the spring.

Any cygnets from the pair would be transported to the Summer Lake Wildlife Area, 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) of wetlands in central Lake County overseen by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Summer Lake area allows cygnets that are hatched in captive environments such as the Pronghorn Resort to grow up and produce young of their own in the wild.

Swans that are raised in the wild are more savvy and likely to survive, Ivey said.

“We should start to see these wild-hatched birds breeding in a couple years,” he said.

During past breeding seasons, wildlife officials could count on cygnets from the Sunriver Nature Center’s beloved Chuck and Gracie. The pair produced six offspring over the years and was considered an important piece to the repopulation effort.

But a year ago, Chuck was illegally shot and killed by a hunter on the Deschutes River.

The resort has also lost two swans to coyotes.

The resort plans to name the new swans, but no names have been picked yet.

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Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com

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