Published November 08, 2011, 02:15 PM

DNR investigating swan deaths

Every fall, officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warn waterfowl hunters to avoid mistakenly shooting trumpeter swans. Notices are printed in Minnesota’s waterfowl hunting regulations and warning signs are posted on some lakes frequented by swans.

Every fall, officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warn waterfowl hunters to avoid mistakenly shooting trumpeter swans. Notices are printed in Minnesota’s waterfowl hunting regulations and warning signs are posted on some lakes frequented by swans.

Despite these initiatives, DNR conservation officers are investigating a number of trumpeter swan deaths.

Trumpeter swans are a federally protected species. People who shoot them face fines up to $1,700 plus a loss of hunting equipment and hunting licenses for up to three years.

“There’s really no excuse for shooting one because Minnesota hunters won’t encounter any other waterfowl as large as a trumpeter swan,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement director.

Konrad said that trumpeter swans have long necks, weigh up to 28 pounds, can be 59 to 72 inches long, and have wingspans up to 8 feet.

Snow geese, in comparison, are smaller than the familiar Canada geese that populate the state. They average 25 to 31 inches long and weigh only 6 or 7 pounds.

“It’s like comparing a bus with a minivan," Konrad said.

Also, trumpeter swans are all white, while snow geese have distinct jet-black tips on their wings.

Tundra swans are slightly smaller than trumpeters. They, too, have the distinctive long neck and are all white. Tundra swans, which are far more numerous than trumpeters, are hunted in some states. But in Minnesota, both species are protected.

Recent cases where charges have been filed or that remain under investigation involving protected swans include:

· Two men facing charges for killing two trumpeter swans several weeks ago in the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area.

· A trumpeter swan was shot and killed in Kandiyohi County and found along a gravel road near a large slough.

· A trumpeter swan was shot and killed near Brownton.

· A trumpeter swan was shot and killed near Pine River.

“Someone out there can help us solve these cases,” Konrad said. Anyone with information should call the Turn In Poachers hotline at 800-652-9093.

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