LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Habitat loss and hunting nearly wiped out the Trumpeter Swan population in the late 1800s, but thanks to restoration efforts over the last 30 years, they're back in full force with over 30,000 in the Midwest.
Avian Ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Sumner Matteson said that in 2000 we had 44 nesting pairs of Trumpeter Swans in Wisconsin. Now there are over 6,000 adult birds.
The comeback story is strong, but researchers with the Wisconsin DNR and other Great Lakes states want to know more about the bird and its mannerisms.
"We know that there's no issue regarding the population status or vulnerability, but there's a lot of concern of where these birds are actually going to winter and the kinds of habitats they're using," said Matteson.
The most recent project is underway. It fits trumpeter swans with GPS collars and records the birds' location every 15 minutes.
"What we hope to do with this current study is to get more information on where they're stopping when they migrate, where are they actually all going, and when are they coming back and what kinds of habitats are they using on the way back," said Matteson. "We'll get really a more complete ecological picture."
The Wisconsin DNR is contributing 10 GPS collars to the Minnesota based project. By next year they hope to have 100 birds outfitted in total. All of this so they can plan for better management of the swans in the future and keep this population thriving.
Matteson said the swans as a whole will start to migrate here within the next month or so, but some will winter here as long as there is open water.
You can actually view the flight paths and locations of the birds with GPS collars here.