Current Status Of Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction At The Flathead Indian Reservation

Keywords
Montana
Flathead Indian Reservation
confederated salish and kootenai tribes
trumpeter swan
reintroduction project
tribal wildlife management
Years
Authors
Volumes
Volume 17, No. 1-4

Current status of trumpeter swan reintroduction at the 
Flathead indian reservation
Dale M. Becker,* Tribal Wildlife Management Program, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, 
P.O. Box 278, Pablo, Montana 59855, daleb@cskt.org
Janene S. Lichtenberg, Tribal Wildlife Management Program, Confederated Salish and Kootenai 
Tribes, P. O. Box 278, Pablo, Montana 59855, janenel@cskt.org
                       
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, in partnership with other agencies and 
non-governmental organizations, commenced a project to reintroduce trumpeter swans 
(Cygnus buccinator) at the Flathead Indian Reservation in 1996. Between 2002 and 2010 191 
swans were released on the Reservation. Released swans generally wintered locally in the 
lower Flathead River drainage and its tributaries, likely due to mild winter weather conditions, 
abundant open water and ample food resources. Wintering swans from the project were also 
observed in southwestern Montana, northeastern Colorado and eastern Idaho, but few of these 
known migrants survived. Collisions with overhead power lines accounted for the majority 
of documented mortalities. Cooperative efforts with the local electrical utility are underway 
to mark lines and the marking seems to have reduced the incidence of collision mortalities. 
The first wild-nesting trumpeter swans from the reintroduction project were observed in 2004 
with continued successful nesting each subsequent year and a total production of 89 fledged 
cygnets. Future plans for the reintroduction project include additional releases of captive-
reared swans, continued monitoring of released and wild hatched swans, wetland habitat 
restoration projects, and marking of additional power lines.