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Snow Goose Hunters Urged
To Watch For Swans

January 28, 2009

Little Rock, AR — Hunters participating in Arkansas’s Light Goose Conservation Order are urged to be careful not to accidentally shoot trumpeter swans.

Karen Rowe, nongame migratory bird program leader with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said, “Increasing numbers of trumpeter and tundra swans are wintering in Arkansas, and some young trumpeter swans brought here last year from Iowa have lived in Arkansas year-round. Goose hunters need to be aware that these swans may be almost anywhere in the state. They roam around Arkansas quite a bit in their daily activities. We have had reports of tundras and trumpeters winter in extreme northwest Arkansas down to the southeastern part of the Delta. ” (continued below)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Light Goose Conservation Order extends hunting for snow and Ross’s geese until April 30. The term light goose includes snow geese and Ross’ geese.

Concern about the swans arose after the killing of five trumpeter swans in central Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation said some hunters failed to properly identify their targets and killed five of the swans, apparently mistaking them for snow geese.

Other hunters witnessed the shootings and alerted conservation agents, who confiscated the birds as evidence. A February court date has been set for the resulting cases.

Trumpeter swans bear only a superficial resemblance to snow geese, as the swans are several times larger than snow geese. Trumpeter swans are all white. Snow geese have black wing tips.

Trumpeter swans are the the largest birds native to North America. Adult males measure 57 to 64 inches long and weigh around 25 pounds. Adult females range from 55 to 60 inches and weigh approximately 20 pounds. Their wingspans can approach 8 feet, and they fly with their extremely long necks outstretched.

About 5,000 trumpeter swans live in the Midwest area of the United States, most of them in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan with some moving south into Missouri.

Biologists studying swans in northern state often mark swans with colored collars with alpha numeric codes. Observers should note the exact location of collared swans, and write down the number and letter code off the collar and send that information to Rowe at krowe@agfc.state.ar.us . Because it can be difficult to tell the difference between tundra and trumpeter swans in the field, the public is encouraged to visit www.trumpeterswansociety.org/id.htm to learn the key differences in bill shape and other physical characteristics of these two species.

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