Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction
By the early 1900s the Trumpeter Swan, the largest of our swan species, was nearly extinct due to over-hunting and loss of habitat. Today only 3500 trumpeters survive east of the Rocky Mountains with the largest flock in Canada residing in the Grande Prairie area. In 1982, Alberta Fish and Wildlife identified human disturbance and habitat loss in the Grande Prairie area as a threat to the general long-term survival of this flock. In 1987, Elk Island National Park was selected for a trumpeter swan transplant program.
As part of this program, cygnets from Grande Prairie were relocated onto EINP lakes. The cygnets ‘fostered ’ to non-breeding adult or sub-adult birds in the Park, leaving with the adults in autumn to return to their wintering areas. Those cygnets and adults that survived the hazards of winter and migration returned to the EINP area each subsequent spring.
It takes 4-6 years for a female Trumpeter Swan to reach maturity so this is definitely a long-term project. However as of 2002 there were 27 birds in the Park including cygnets, breeding birds, and non-breeding sub-adults.
The FEIS contributed extensively to this project by funding aerial surveys, by paying for birds to be transported to the Park from Grande Prairie and by providing volunteers to monitor the swans during the breeding season.
The survey results below shows the increase in the Alberta population since 1985. For information regarding status and the proposed 2015 survey please see our update page.
(Image courtesy of Gary Harrold)