Michigan Department of Natural Resources sent this bulletin
Trumpeter Swans were found here in abundance. Starting in the late 1800s, however, an increase in European settlement brought with it the conversion of wetlands to farmlands. It also brought market hunters, who harvested swans to sell their meat to restaurants, fluffy down for pillows, feather quills for pens, and skins and feathers for the fashion and hat trade. Unlike today’s hunters, who provide conservation funding through their hunting license and equipment purchases and only take as many animals as can be replaced through reproduction, market hunters had few regulations and little care for ensuring the future of the species that they decimated.
Thanks to the passage of federal wildlife protection laws in the early 1900s, this unrestrained harvest was curtailed, but the bird’s habitat still was imperiled. By 1933, only 66 trumpeter swans remained in the United States. Through careful stewardship, the trumpeter’s numbers slowly increased. Today, over 750 trumpeter swans can be found in Michigan alone and 35,000 swans across the entire United States!
If you venture out to capture the magic of trumpeter swans, respect their privacy and enjoy them from a distance. These are the largest waterfowl in the world and can weigh more than 25 pounds. They are 4 feet tall and have a wingspan of over 7 feet – all in all, an intimidating bird. And adults are very protective of their young cygnets and may attempt to chase off or attack a person that they think may pose a danger.
The trumpeter swan remains in Michigan year-round and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. To learn more about the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial, visit www.fws.gov/birds/MBTreaty100.