Second life for wounded trumpeter swan

  • Thu Dec 27th, 2012 9:19pm
  • News

By Bill Sheets Herald Writer

EVERETT — A trumpeter swan found in a Fred Meyer parking lot last month after having been shot has been released into the wild.

The female swan, believed to be at least 15 years old, was nursed back to health at the Sarvey Wildlife Center in Arlington after being rescued Nov. 8.

The bird was released Wednesday at Lake Terrell near Ferndale by wildlife biologist Martha Jordan and state wildlife officials.

“She now has a chance to survive,” said Jordan, a swan expert who lives in Everett.

The bird was found wandering through the parking lot of the Silver Lake Fred Meyer store. The swan was bloody and was later found to have at least three pieces of birdshot embedded in its chest muscles.

Shooting a trumpeter swan is illegal in the state. No arrests have been made for the shooting, Jordan said. It’s not known exactly when or where the swan was shot, she said.

The swan was taken to Sarvey for treatment. It recovered well, to the point of getting antsy, Jordan said.

“She just had to get released because she really wanted to fly,” she said.

The swan was found with a tracking collar dated Dec. 16, 2001. Records showed the swan was the very first one of about 245 tagged as part of a state study of lead poisoning of swans, according to Jordan.

Swans eat small pebbles to help them digest their food, and sometimes mistake lead birdshot on the ground for stones, she said. They eat them and die from the lead.

“We were losing several hundred trumpeter swans every year to the ingestion of lead shot,” Jordan said.

In tests at Sarvey, this bird was found not to have any lead poisoning, she said.

Records showed the swan was determined to be at least 4 years old when tagged, which makes it at least 15. Swans live 20 to 30 years in the wild.

The bird was seen with a mate in a pond near the Fred Meyer store before it was found injured, and the mate was seen nearby when the female was in distress in the parking lot, Jordan said.

The mate is believed to have flown away, but the swan will likely find a new one at its new home, she said.

Lake Terrell has a large game refuge, reducing the chances of the bird ingesting stray birdshot.

“It has a big area that’s closed to hunting,” Jordan said. “There’s a lot of food up there, and lot of swans come to the lake every night to roost.”

When the bird took off, it looked strong, Jordan said.

“It was not a short flight; it was amazing to watch her go,” she said.

Herald reporter Rikki King contributed to this story.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.