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Southwest Iowa will be home to eight new trumpeter swans on May 10 and 11

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will release eight trumpeter swans at three locations in southwest Iowa as part of the effort to create a self-sustaining population of swans south of Interstate 80. All releases will occur rain or shine.

  • Four swans will be released on the north side of Lake Icaria at the east boat ramp on May 10 at 9:30 a.m., in partnership with the Adams County Conservation Board.  
  • Two swans will be released at Viking Lake near the restaurant/beach area on May 10 at 1 p.m.
  • Two swans will be released at Lake Anita on May 11 at 1:30 p.m., in partnership with the Cass County Conservation Board.

These releases are part of the Iowa DNR’s statewide effort to restore trumpeter swans to Iowa that began in 1993. Trumpeter swans were once common in Iowa, but were gone from the state by the late 1880s. By the early 1930s, only 69 trumpeter swans remained in the lower 48 states. 

It takes six years, on average, before trumpeter swans successfully nest. Last year, Iowa was home to 54 pairs of nesting trumpeter swans; however, only two of those nesting pairs were south of I-80. Dave Hoffman, wildlife research technician with the Iowa DNR, said the goal is to raise that number to seven, which would likely create a self-sustaining population.

“We are hopeful to get them nesting here in a year or two,” Hoffman said. “We had swans displaying some territorial signs last year at Lake Icaria, which is encouraging.”

As the largest North American waterfowl, these all-white birds can weigh up to 32 pounds and have an 8-foot wingspan. The trumpeter swans being released are young and flightless and will imprint on the area where they learn to fly, returning each year as open water is available. The swans were donated to the project from zoos in Cleveland, Kansas City, Green Bay, Wis. and Maryland.

Each event includes a swan and wetland presentation, an opportunity to touch and view the swans up close, and a photo opportunity with the kids.

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