Posted: Jul 27, 2012 10:43 AM by Katy Harris - KAJ News
Updated: Jul 27, 2012 10:44 AM
PABLO- Some of the biggest swans in the world are once again calling the Flathead Indian Reservation home.
Trumpeter Swans are the largest swan species on Earth, where a male can weigh as much as 35 pounds and grow up to four feet tall.
The 11 birds tried out their wings in at the Pablo National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday, and biologists hope the bird will build up a viable population in western Montana.
"It sort of returns the missing piece of the ecological puzzle," Tribal Wildlife Program Manager Dale Becker explained.
Trumpeter Swans used to roam this are pretty frequently up until the early 1900's when hunting and habitat loss really took its toll on the swans.
"When settlement occurred and as people started moving in, a lot of them were probably shot for subsistence and then just the changes that have happened habitat wise. Wet lands have been drained and lost and over the years basically they just pinched out and became extinct locally," Becker said.
The restoration project is being funded through a wildlife habitat and mitigation settlement for Kerr Dam. Officials say more Trumpeter Swans will be released in June or July next year.
The 11 swans released Thursday were raised in Ronan for the past year.