Because of their white color, trumpeter swans look a little bit like snow geese, according to Martha Jordan, a wildlife biologist and chair of the Washington Swan Stewards.
But there also are obvious differences, Jordan pointed out. Trumpeter swans are entirely white, while snow geese have black wing tips. Also, the swans measure 6-8 feet from wing tip to wing tip, while snow geese measure only about 3 feet.
And here is another very big difference -- unlike snow geese, which can be hunted during waterfowl season, there is never a legal time to shoot trumpeter swans.
Unfortunately, it happens, Jordan said. Since waterfowl season opened in early October, there have been three reported shootings of trumpeter swans in Snohomish County -- one at Crescent Lake south of Monroe, another in the Stillaguamish River Valley, and a third on the Snohomish River south of Snohomish.
"And there might be more," Jordan said, "but not that we know for a fact."
The most common excuse people give when cited for shooting swans "is that they thought it was a snow goose," Jordan said. Other times, she added, "they turn out to be vandals and they shot them on purpose, hoping they could get away with it. A trophy, if you will."
There are both state and federal laws prohibiting the shooting of swans with fines that can be several hundred dollars.
"I'm pro-hunting, pro-shooting," Jordan said. "But I'm not in favor of shooting swans or any other species that is protected under our regulations. ... Think before you shoot, that's really what it's about."
For additional information about identifying swans, go to www.trumpeterswansociety.org.
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