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Health, Science & Environment

Trumpeter swans removed from Ohio's threatened list

white swan floats on water
Ohio Division of Natural Resources
Trumpeter swans have just been removed from the Threatened Species list in Ohio.

The trumpeter swan is officially off the Threatened Species List in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) reports the Ohio Wildlife Council voted to delist the bird following a 28-year effort to revive the species.

The agency says the state's current trumpeter swan population is at nearly 900, and there are nesting pairs in 26 counties.

"Trumpeter swans represent a great comeback story for Ohio," said Mary Mertz, ODNR director.

Gov. Mike DeWine added in a release, "In addition to monitoring the growth of the trumpeter swan population, a great deal of work also went into creating and restoring wetland habitat needed for generations of trumpeters to nest and thrive."

The birds prefer shallow ponds, lakes, rivers, and marshes. In the winter or during migration season, they can also be spotted in harvested agricultural fields. In Ohio, they're found in the northern and central portions of the state.

Trumpeter swans were extirpated from Ohio as early as the 1700s, and experienced severe declines in the U.S. in the 1700s and 1800s because of habitat loss and unregulated hunting. The Division of Wildlife began reintroducing swan eggs in 1996 from a refuge in Alaska.

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"The eggs were placed in incubators and flown to Ohio, where the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The Wilds of the Columbus Zoo partnered to help care for the eggs, raise the young trumpeters, and release them in appropriate habitats," according to the Division of Wildlife. "Trumpeter swans were listed as an endangered species upon release and populations have been on the rise ever since, leading to a positive downgrade to threatened status in 2012."

According to a release, the state's Swan Management Plan from 2010 set goals of reaching 40 or more breeding pairs for three consecutive years. The first year with more than 40 breeding pairs was recorded in 2015, and that reoccurred every year following. Ohio counted 152 breeding pairs in 2023. A second prerequisite for delisting was having breeding pairs in at least 15 counties.

The trumpeter swan is the largest, native waterfowl in North America, "stretching to 6 feet in length and weighing more than 25 pounds," according to Cornell Lab's All About Birds. "To get that much mass aloft the swans need at least a 100 meter-long 'runway' of open water: running hard across the surface, they almost sound like galloping horses as they generate speed for take off."

Health, Science & Environment Ohio NewsOhio Department of Natural Resources
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.