Tundra swan shot at marsh

By Dick Mason, The Observer November 14, 2012 03:19 pm

David Bronson of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife carries out a wounded tundra swan Friday after it was caught on a pond at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. The swan had been shot illegally. CATHY NOWAK photo
David Bronson of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife carries out a wounded tundra swan Friday after it was caught on a pond at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. The swan had been shot illegally. CATHY NOWAK photo

Bird, which is being treated by rehab specialists, is one of possibly 3 tundra swans that have been shot illegally over the past year at Ladd Marsh 

A tundra swan shot illegally at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area earlier this month is now being treated by wildlife rehab specialists but is so badly injured that it might have to be euthanized.

The wounded swan was captured in a pond near Peach Road Friday and was sent to Blue Mountain Wildlife in Pendleton to be rehabilitated. X-rays taken Monday reveal that the bird has seven pellets in its left wing.  

The bird’s big problem, however, is its severely damaged right wing. The wing was apparently injured when the bird crashed to the ground after being shot. The right wing was so badly damaged that it can’t be repaired, which means that the bird likely will have to euthanized, said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Cathy Nowak.

The bird was caught after an approximately two-hour effort over a two-day period by an ODFW team. The crew first attempted to capture the swan Thursday, but it eluded its captors by swimming into water too deep for crew members to walk in.

“We thought we could catch it in shallow water, but it outsmarted us,’’ Nowak said.

The ODFW crew then opened the pond’s two outlets to lower its water level by about a foot. This allowed crew members to walk into the deepest part of the pond and catch the swan with the aid of a fishing net. The net was placed over the head of the swan by one crew member. This immobilized it to the point that it could be safely handled by other crew members.

The bird was first reported as having been shot at Ladd Marsh earlier this month. It is one of possibly three tundra swans reported to have been shot at Ladd Marsh over the past year.  For the past decade at least one tundra swan has been reported to have been shot almost every year at Ladd Marsh, said Dave Larson, an ODFW biologist. Larson is the manager of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

Nowak said it is not uncommon for the ODFW to find a tundra swan that is unable to fly because it had been shot, swimming in a pond in late winter. This is usually long after the other tundra swans, which annually stop at Ladd Marsh, have left.  The marsh often has up to 200 tundra swans in early spring and early fall. Most can be seen from Foothill Road, Nowak said.

ODFW officials have been told in the past that the tundra swans were shot accidentally because they were mistaken for snow geese, which are legal to hunt during goose season.

Larson and Nowak said they can’t understand how tundra swans can be mistaken for snow geese. They note that tundra swans are much bigger than snow geese. The necks of the two birds are also dramatically different. Tundra swans have necks that are almost as long as their body. Snow geese, by comparison, have almost no neck.

Shooting a tundra swan is a class A misdemeanor.