Trumpeter/Tundra swans, were photographed during December 2014, Lynden area including Wiser Lake. The following information and photographs are by Elvira Butler.
“The trumpeter/tundra swan lives and breeds in the Arctic but family groups with juveniles leave in large numbers just before the freezing temperatures set in and another food source is required. These animals fly some 3,700 miles and migrate to both the east and west North American coast, and also inland to Utah and New Mexico. There has been widespread wetland habitat destruction and water pollution so, instead of feeding on their natural aquatic vegetation, the swans have become dependent on human agricultural crops. This is managed in our state by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Farmers can receive compensation for their fields that are set aside for the swans. Skagit County has approximately 60,000 wintering swans according to the Skagit Land Trust Office.
“Trumpeter/Tundra swans are not considered threatened or endangered. Some states allow hunting by Native Americans, but poachers also add to the mortality rate of 14,000/year. Another significant reason for the death rate is lead poisoning (leftover ammunition from all types of hunting activity) as they eat the grain from the fields. The lead affects our environment by also contaminating the groundwater supplies. A ban is in effect to phase out the toxic lead bullets and convert to copper for recreational and military use.”